I blog a lot about the need for niceness.
I’m a nice person (at least I like to think I am). I like doing nice things. I like being nice to other people. I like spending my time with people who are nice.
Nice is a funny sort of word. To many people, it’s a bit of a nothing word. It’s kind of naff or boring. If something is nice, it can’t be that special. It can’t be that interesting or exciting. It’s nothing to write home about. It’s simply nice.
I couldn’t disagree more. Nice doesn’t have to be boring. Nice doesn’t have to be bland and uninteresting. I’m perfectly comfortable engaging in the world in a nice sort of way. And no, I don’t find it boring. I actually find this approach to life to be more than stimulating enough. And as for hanging out with people who are not nice – that sounds far too unpleasant and stressful as far as I’m concerned.
One of the areas where you would expect niceness to be discouraged would be in the writing of stories. According to most perceived wisdom, that’s the last approach you’d want to use. After all, every one knows that stories require conflict. Otherwise, where is the dramatic tension going to come from? How are you supposed to create any sort of story?
I don’t necessarily have an answer to that question. But, as a thought experiment, I thought it might be fun to play around with the idea of everybody in a story being nice to each other to see where it took me.
I was thinking of something along these lines:
Bob shuffled into the room, a big smile on his face. He immediately noticed Maxine sitting in the chair opposite, and because he really liked Maxine, he knew he had to say something nice to her.
“Hello, Maxine,” he began. “You are looking splendid today. I really like what you’ve done with your hair. And that jacket is simply smashing.”
Maxine couldn’t help but beam. Those were really nice things to hear. She knew she would have to reciprocate in as nice a way as possible.
“Hello, Bob,” she replied. “It’s so nice of you to mention it. I think you’re looking rather splendid yourself. And I love the way you’ve let your moustache grow. It really sets off the angles of your cheekbones.”
Bob chuckled. A ray of sun slipped in through the window, illuminating the room with a golden glow. Things couldn’t have possibly been nicer.
You get the idea. It’s made me feel really nice to get that down. I’m sure I could take it further in a way that would be suitably dramatic without losing that sense of niceness.
Posted by Jonathan Gould and tagged as