Skip to main content

Why Kindness Matters

Last night I retweeted a lovely positive thought from a running friend (the running community tends to be a supportive, encouraging bunch) about kindness… and provoked a troll who came out of his cave to tell us exactly what he thought of us. Some people, it seems, will have a pop at anyone which is a great shame when there’s more than enough unhappiness and pain in the world. Perhaps the troll thought I was a bit of a Pollyanna which is ironic because the only reason I’ve been trying to hold on to any moments of comfort and joy is because this year’s been so demanding!

Like everyone else, our family’s had its share – quite a large one, in fact - of unhappiness, illness and tragedy. A full life comes with ups and downs, light and shade – it’s part of being alive – so we have to cherish the good times, take pleasure in small moments and make the most of every day. My birthday, at the end of November, brought a moment of pure happiness when I looked round a restaurant table at my daughters, their husbands, my granddaughter and my husband. 

A few hours later we were rushing to the south east to a hospital emergency department where my mother-in-law had been admitted for a life-threatening condition.

My mother-in-law remains seriously ill so we’re all doing what we can to ease the situation. Tom’s been at her bedside or with my father-in-law for much of the time and there’s been a lot of commuting up and down the M4. It’s a tough time full of uncertainty but I’ve been very touched by kind messages from dear friends who write or pick up the phone to say they’re thinking of us.

Maybe it’s the time of life or maybe it’s the time of year, but I’ve thought a lot lately about the reading which always marked the end of term at the traditional girls’ grammar school I was very fortunate to attend. It’s St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians 13 on the nature of love which, though I’m not religious, always moves me for its beauty and poetry. If I close my eyes I can still hear the words and that closing line falling into the hush of a final assembly or a Christmas service at St Martin’s Church in Epsom. ‘So now abideth faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.’

Kindness - love if you like - matters because it’s what makes us human, gives us comfort, and brings us hope for the future. I may not always succeed – I know I’ve failed plenty of times - but I’ll continue to try to treat others as I would hope to be treated then I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I did my best.

I mention the troll incident to my dear friend Jill who reminds me that back in our school days trolls were plastic dolls with coloured hair that we stuck on the ends of our pencils. A fleeting thought crosses my mind that a few real life trolls could do with a pencil up the bottom… but that would be unkind, wouldn’t it?


mountainear said…
We must have shared a similar education - that piece from Corinthians often springs to mind along with other passages which were pressed upon us at a tender age. I'm reminded too of the words on a topiary sundial at Ascott House in Buckinghamshire 'Light and shade by turn, but love always'. If I ever commission a sundial for myself or a gift those are the words I shall choose.

Thinking of you and yours Chris - hope life regains and even keel and mother in law her health. X
Teresa said…
Yes, it would. Still funny though ahahahahahahah
I already told you in Facebook - I hated Twitter. Somehow seems easier to disconnect and while connected I had my share - too big in my mind and for my ego - of weirdly interpreted nice words and gestures. So one day I said no more. I deleted the account. Still thought of returning and un-delete it but time started passing and after weighing in the benefits of following the ones I liked and all I had to endure that I didn't like I failed to do so and now I can't even think of it.
Yes, Kindness matters. And empathy. So it still pains me to read or listen that someone goes through a bad patch of road and still enters the pool to land a hand to those in need. Let's be honest, stop licking the wounds, and think - the same thought, wish and blessing reached the hearts and smiles of many so in the all scheme of things that troll is to be pitied.
Love and I hope soon you can smile easier without that pang of not so rosy times,
Chris Stovell said…
Thank you for telling me about those words on the sundial, Mountainear, they're lovely and I shall remember them. I expect we both remember the same hymns and prayers (Ignatious Loyola anyone?) too! At the funeral we attended recently words of hymns came back to me across a bridge of many years. Thanks too for your good wishes. Much appreciated xx
Chris Stovell said…
Don't encourage me, Teresa! Twitter can be rough - I got savaged by a well-known magazine editor for butting into a 'private' conversation... maybe have that conversation somewhere private then. Needless to say I haven't bought that magazine since. Thanks for your good wishes as ever. xx
so sorry to hear you are still rushing up and down the country to support your mother in law. That has just finished for us after three years as my dad died last week. And as you say this stage of life seems to be characterised by the combination of the joy of grandchildren and the difficulties of declining parents. Still it is good to know you make a difference to the generation above and good to be sustained in our turn by the love of children and grandchildren. I've pretty much left Twitter too. It seems too easy for people to troll and flame without regard for feeling.
Will be thinking about you over the coming weeks.
Mandy K James said…
A lovely post, Chris. And I totally agree - what is a life without love? I also agree about the pencil up the rectum - or a bead up the nostril for that matter xxxx
Frances said…
Chris, I'm sending along lots of love to you and yours. This is a very tricky time of the year for our emotions, and it's wise of you to keep thinking positively in the face of challenges. I also know those words from Corinthians and appreciate your reminding me of them.

A Troll-inserted rectum might be a classic example of having to be cruel to be kind!

My running friends have been brilliantly supportive over the last years, when leg issues (i.e. lack of a working one) have curtailed my running and walking. They have also been very encouraging and interested in "the book".

I know exactly what you have been (and are) going through with M-in-Law. We have had it all with both my Mum and my lovely M-in-law. Its tough, getting older.

Have a great Christmas!

John xx
Chris Stovell said…
Elizabeth, I'm very sad to hear about your dad. You, if any one, know about the long commutes, all those journeys made for the sake of love and watching the person you hold so dear becoming frail. Thank you for your kind thoughts - my condolences to you and yours. xx

Thank you, Mandy, and for all your support. Thank goodness for Grandbeans, eh, and the solace of the sea xx

Frances, all that love is much appreciated, thank you and for your kindness, as always xx

It would make them sit up, John... or maybe not! I joined the Earthathon virtual running relay and have had such encouragement from runners across the globe and you're right, everyone commiserates when injuries or health problems enforce rest. All best to you with the book for 2016 and merry Christmas to you too. xx
Unknown said…
Like you it's been a challenging year but life is a circle and although we lost my father we're expecting our first grandchild in the spring. There's a difference between Pollyanna and being appreciative of life :) Angela Britnell
Chris Stovell said…
I'm so delighted to hear about your first grandchild, Angela, Bee's arrival taught me new meanings of love, though I do wish my dad could have known her so I feel for you not having your father around. Appreciative of life - yes, good choice!
Carol Hedges said…
Lovly is so up and down and we need to encourage each other. Never 'get' trolls..and I get a lot of them, believe me.Like you, I think back over the year and recall the good and the bad..but also ( I think) like you, I look into the eyes of my little grand daughter, and the bad fades away into insignificance....x
Chris Stovell said…
Thank you, Carol. Gosh, it's sad you get trolled - you're one of the good Twitter guys, why would anyone take a pop at you?! As parents, our first instinct is to want to make the world a better place for our children. I've felt it all over again as a grandmother and yes, the bad things fade away looking into those innocent eyes x

Pondside said…
Chris, our stars remain aligned. Ignore that kill-joys. It is the only way.
You are certainly experiencing life in all its ups and downs. I'm sorry to hear that your mother-in-law is still so ill and that you've been interacting intimately with the NTS.
How is your Edmonton family? Ours has made tentative plans to come here - a huge treat of it comes to pass.
Your wee granddaughter is SO sweet!
I don't understand these nasty trolls or the pleasure they get out of being vile to people and that one certainly sounds like he needs a troll doll shoved where the sun doesn't shine. In fact it might give him something else to think about!

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas despite all the difficulties you've been having to deal with. xxx
Flowerpot said…
So sorry to hear things are difficult Chris - this year has been a belter, hasn't it? Here's to 2016 being a more peaceful, happy one. And I remember those troll things on the end of pencils - evil looking things. I think any troll deserves a pencil up there - could be much worse!! X
Chris Stovell said…
So sorry for being slow to catch up with your comments. Difficult times here!
Pondside, thank you so much for taking the time to visit when you have so much on your plate too. I do hope those plans worked out for you and you had some time with your Edmonton family. Ours are doing so well and have achieved so much in such a short time - they moved into their own house just before Christmas (and just before the snow fell!). We're lucky to see them regularly on Face Time calls which brings them closer.

Debs, I was a bit shocked by the vehemence! Oh well, takes all sorts. Thanks so much for your good wishes - we were lucky to spend time together as planned which made a real break. cxx

SUe, thank you - I know you've had more than your fair share of troubles, so I completely echo your sentiments about 2016. Happy New Year xx

Popular posts from this blog

Ten Years On. Cardiff HM 2018

In ten weeks time - barring any disasters - I’ll be taking part in the Cardiff Half Marathon 2018, ten years since I ran my first half marathon which was also in Cardiff. I finished that race in floods of tears and begged everyone never to let me put myself through such a tough challenge ever again. And then I got home and completed the entry for my next half marathon.

Over the last ten years, our family has grown...

My writing dreams came true.

And like everyone else we’ve had the usual share of trials and tribulations.

But running, and racing, has become part of my life; it keeps me sane and keeps me fit. Lacing up a pair of running shoes and getting outside was probably the biggest favour I ever did for myself. Now I’m asking all of you to do a favour for someone else.

My dad would have been thrilled by the additions to the family - adults and babies - but he never got to meet them. He never knew that I became a published author. He wasn’t there to give me a hug and tell me thi…

New Beginnings: A Garden Uncovered, A Cover Revealed.

No winter lasts forever… and nor, thank goodness, does every lurgy. After ten weeks of wondering if I’ll stop coughing, the infection loses its grip and I’m well enough to tackle my first Park Run with Helen in the beautiful grounds at Llanerchaeron. Park Run, of course, is not a race but it doesn’t stop Helen and I blatting along each week in pursuit of new PBs.

Tom and I have both been busy at work. One week there’s a strange juxtaposition when I proofread my novella and then check Tom’s draft thesis! I begin ‘Cyborg Music:A Future Musicotechnographic Aesthetic’ with some trepidation about how I’ll cope with the deep philosophical concepts but by the end I’m fully on board and bursting with pride. Tom makes his final amendments and takes three copies to the post office where he pays a whopping £15 to send it on its way. Now ‘all’ he has to do is sit back and wait for the date of his Viva Voce…

Lily’s second baby is due… ooh… tomorrow, so excitement’s running high here and we both j…

A New Adventure

As my stepson, Tom, and his bride, Amey, turn for the first time as man and wife to face their guests in the register office, tears spring to my eyes yet again. What is it about such a happy occasion that makes me cry? I’ve already blubbed at the sight of my stepson nervously adjusting his tie as he holds his small daughter and chats to his best man. I’ve wiped away tears at the loving looks the couple exchange as they make their vows and now it’s the first few bars of ‘I know I’ll Never Find Another You’ by The Seekers, a band my dad loved, playing in the background that’s making me weep.

I guess I’m crying because every wedding represents the start of a new adventure in a new world, but it’s also the container of so many memories. We’ve been based with Ma in Epsom since travelling from west Wales and one of the regular runs I do when we stay there takes me up and over Epsom Downs, past three houses where I have lived. As I run past the Victorian house which was home to me and Tom and…