So, recently on a flight back from Sydney, Australia (16 hours), I read "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine". I highly recommend it. It deals with the topic of loneliness and was inspired by an article the author read about a very young woman's account of her life while living and working in New York- a city of 8 million no doubt. The article recounted a life void of meaningful human contact starting from the end of the work week on Friday until the start of work Monday morning. The book's title, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a complete contradiction when compared to the real life of Eleanor, the book's main character. Eleanor is a strange bird, off-putting with her words and sporting a facial scar that further served to separate her from the people she encountered. In the book she was scoffed and laughed at, but mostly discounted and overlooked. People did not take time to figure her out, they simply shook their heads and moved on leaving Eleanor alone. That is, until Raymond, a new hire in the IT department, came alone. In his own words, Raymond thought Eleanor was 'nutty A_' but was intrigued enough to still engage her. He liked her frankness and couldn't-care-less attitude as to how people perceived her. There was a steeliness about Eleanor that was shaped from cruelties she experienced too often in her short life starting at far too young of an age. Despite her brashness, Raymond found her easy to be around. He asked her to lunch and to her own shock, she said yes. The book trails the journey to friendship between Eleanor and Raymond, slowly unraveling Eleanor's tormented and desperate history alongside Raymond's gentle and, in today's world, almost unnatural kindness. I recommend this book for the way it champions the virtue of kindness and the life changing effects random acts of kindness can have on the giver and receiver- all at once. It reminds the reader of the gift we all have: one that's never depleted and that can always be given out - kindness. So, in the winter months, between the joy of Christmas and hope of spring, I'd like to think that kindness is the one thing that is sure to add spark to the most mundane of days.
Pass it on.