So you can read my books

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Carolina Valdez Miller has designated every 2nd Wednesday as THE KINDNESS PROJECT time to write about the worth of kindness:

On this day in 1965 Shirley Jackson (THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE) died of heart failure, at the age of forty-eight.

For twenty years and from various angles Jackson had built a reputation for quietly ripping the lid off life in Pleasantville:

"The Lottery" and other stories; her two family chronicles, Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons; her horror novel, The Haunting of Hill House.

By 1962 her physical and mental health had deteriorated to the point that she could not face venturing into, let alone fictionalizing, her Bennington, Vermont hometown.

Any number of descriptions and causes were offered:

her mother, agoraphobia, years of drug abuse (amphetamines and tranquilizers), years of overeating and overdrinking, etc.

In the end, we craft our prisons, our palaces, our lives

by each decision that eventually become patterns of behavior which in turn become the rudder which takes us to pleasant or dark harbors.

Sandra says I sometimes remind her of Elwood P. Dowd (Jimmy Stewart) in Harvey. There are worse people to be likened to.

Listen to Elwood:

"Well, I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it."

"Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, 'In this world, Elwood, you must be' - she always called me Elwood - 'In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.' Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me."

"Myrtle Mae, you have a lot to learn, and I hope you never learn it."

"I always have a wonderful time, wherever I am, whomever I'm with."

"Harvey and I sit in the bars... have a drink or two... play the juke box. And soon the faces of all the other people they turn toward mine and they smile.

And they're saying, "We don't know your name, mister, but you're a very nice fella."

Harvey and I warm ourselves in all these golden moments. We've entered as strangers - soon we have friends.

And they come over... and they sit with us... and they drink with us... and they talk to us.

They tell about the big terrible things they've done and the big wonderful things they'll do. Their hopes, and their regrets, and their loves, and their hates. All very large, because nobody ever brings anything small into a bar."

That last quote says it all:

No one's dreams, hurts, or losses are small. Puppy love is real to the puppy. The tears we dare not shed burn the worst.

What did Mark Twain write?

Nothing that grieves us can be called little: by the eternal laws of proportion a child's loss of a doll and a king's loss of a crown are events of the same size.

Which leads to my cardinal rule:
Always treat people as kindly as you can, for everyone is having a harder time than they appear.

It is the way of Man to be cruel to those who are weak and without power. Let us be the exception to the rule. Here is a tune of a poor girl who was treated as the world usually treats those who need but a bit of understanding.


  1. Such a sad life. If only she'd had someone reach out to her with a little kindness. Thank you for your kindness post, Roland. It's a good reminder.

  2. Carolina:
    Thanks for taking time to visit me here and staying to talk. Time. Just a minute taken to squeeze a shoulder or lend one ... it can make all the difference in the world.

  3. Wow. That's a terrible story, but at the same time, it's something I've been thinking about. We can become very consumed by whatever it is we're doing and we can forget there are people around us who care and who we need to engage with. So we don't die in our homes at 48. :p

    But I love the Mark Twain quote, and as always, I agree wholeheartedly with your take on it. Thanks for joining TKP! <3

  4. Very sad story.
    Your cardinal rule is excellent. I always try to say something nice to others when I'm out and about, such as the poor girl at the checkout who looks sad or bored. Often one kind word will bring those people back to life, even if only for a moment.

  5. You can always count on Roland to do things a little differently. Thanks for sharing this, Roland.

  6. Some great quotes you've shared with us, thanks. And as I said, you can never tell how far a small bit of kindness will go. I loved the song, I don't know Thea Gilmore. Must check her out.

  7. I remember reading The Lottery in 11th grade. It blew my mind. Despite her problems and heartache, she left a lasting impression on the world.

  8. Leigh:
    Heather worked with a young man who committed suicide recently. We are surrounded by souls struggling with silent wounds, invisible griefs.

    You and me both. The sales clerks, the check out girls, the waitresses, all these people who so many look through -- we must recognize ourselves in them.

    Different is my middle name. TOO is sometimes my first one! Thanks for enjoying this post.

    Neil Gaiman introduced me to Thea Gilmore. No, we don't chum around sadly. I found her on his blog. Thea's use of words is magical.

    Yes, THE LOTTERY was stunning to me in high school as well. Now, schools so dumb down their classes that I mentioned THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER to a co-worker and he said he never heard of it!!

    Yes, Shirley Jackson touched all her read her. Thanks for visiting and staying to talk awhile! Rolandd

  9. Darwin surmised that the strongest survive and that is the way of the world. Often, I wonder, if it is not considered that the survival of the strongest comes at the price of those who are either weaker or perceived as weaker and that in a world where the strongest treated others as they wanted to be treated, they wouldn't be alone in said surviving. And the weak not really perceived as weak...

  10. Angela:
    Sometimes it is the loving that manages to perpetuate the species: the prarie chicken who covers her chicks with her body as the wild fire consumes her ... she dies; her chicks survive.

    The mother penguin who slowly starves while covering her eggs. There are many instances in nature where the adult dies or is harmed in keeping the young well.

    To be strong without the callous of cruelty, to be kind without the bruise of weakness ... these are things I think that highlight true strength to survive. But I am also a dreamer. :-)

    Thanks for visiting and taking time to really muse and chat with me! Roland

  11. Heart-warming, Roland!

    I'm with Elwood.

    And "Harvey" is an awesome film. Plus, for what it's worth -- when I see the name "Elwood" I always think of Elwood Blues from the Blues Brothers. But then, Elwood was the kinder brother too. Jake was the one with the edge...

  12. Everyone is having a harder time than they appear, so very true. And we never know how much one act of kindness might alter someone's life, let alone their day. :)