(The 19th century American novelist Henry James, who was perhaps more English than the English, was notorious for complicated and torturous sentences that often have to be deconstructed like puzzles. But in “real life” he could be clear and straightforward about his meaning, as this poem by June Beisch demonstrates. There is no image for this post because I don’t know what visual image would demonstrate “kindness” for me, certainly not for you. So fill in your own image, please.)
“Poor Mr. James,” Virginia Woolf once said:
“He never quite met the right people.”
Poor James. He never quite met the
children of light and so he had to invent them.
Then, when people said: No one is like that.
Your books are not reality, he replied:
So much the worse for reality.
He described himself as “slow to conclude,
orotund, a slow-moving creature, circling his rooms
slowly masticating his food.”
Once, when a nephew asked his advice
on how to live, he searched his mind.
Number One, be kind, he said.
Number Two, be kind and
Number Three, be kind.
“Henry James” by June Beisch, from Fatherless Woman. © Cape Cod Literary Press, 2004.
I said I don’t have any visual image for being kind — but coincidentally this morning I read a post by blogging friend Joss, aka Crowing Crone. Her post, Look for Opportunities, is in turns horrifying, electrifying, and inspiring. From precious personal experience Joss testifies to the power of kindness. Don’t miss it: you won’t forget it. Thank you, Joss.