Going beyond 'I am fine'
“Kindness is always fashionable, and always welcome” - Amelia Barr.
One of my favourite books currently, and the one I am telling everyone I meet about, is “Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine”. A book about a woman who is, like most of us, trying to come to terms with our past, survive the working week and be happy but, also like many of us, not really knowing how.
What spoke to me most about the book is the power of ordinary acts of kindness. The fact that everyone, at some point in their lives, needs someone that has the same good intentions, patience and honesty as Raymond shows Eleanor. The book also highlights how our modern lives are governed by routine. This can feel safe, comfortable, but sometimes deep down a little boring, whilst the book shows us, through Eleanor’s journey, that choosing the scary step to try something new can be beneficial- but often we need someone (friend, family, therapist) to show us the way. I firmly believe that we are all doing the best we can, with what we know at this point time, but there is always scope to grow, if we allow ourselves to.
I admire how the book tackles loneliness in today’s world. When people think of loneliness they may think of widowers in their latter years, living isolated at home. Of course that can be lonely, but so to can people of any age/sex/background go about their life suffering from loneliness and no one really would have a clue, unless they chose to look a little closer, like Raymond did.
Being an animal lover myself, I also nodded understandingly when Eleanor was given her pet cat, Glen. A pet can be so much more than "just an animal’ ,they are company, a faithful companion and someone who is always there for you when you get home. A good talk about the unconditional love of a dog can be found here.
This was not the usual story of girl meets boy and then undergoes inner and outer transformation for him, it was more about the power of kindness and how someone, anyone, stopping to ask what "fine" really means can have such a powerful and positive impact on a person’s life. The Royal Family has done much to raise the awareness and reduce the stigma of talking about mental health in their "Heads Together" campaign, with other charities like Mind.org and Together-UK also available. In recent months, many celebrities have also opened up the conversation about mental health which can only be a step forward. I thought it was a much needed book in the modern world and one that I know will stick with me long after I have read it.
“Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end” - Scott Adams.