The Tale of Louis and Fanny


I’m a nice person.  Most of the time.  Kinda bitchy the rest of the time.  Just ask my husband.

Wonder who will show up today?  The classic Jekyll and Hyde conundrum…

I’m fortunate to know a few people who are truly, sincerely nice. From a healthy place.  That’s important…  They are amazing; almost saintly in their compassion, care and concern for others.  It’s just not in their DNA to be mean and nasty.  Or bitchy.  I would not be one of these people.

When I’m Dr. Jekyll, I AM a nice person.  A really nice person.  But sometimes I can overdo it with the nice.  Too nice.  Doormat nice. That’s when nice is not from a healthy place.  Dysfunctional nice. Not long after we cross over doormat nice, Ms. Hyde shows up.

I’ve found that you just can’t “force” nice.  When you try to force the square peg of “nice” in the round hole of “where no nice should ever be forced to go”, you end up with a messed up peg.  A cranky, nasty peg.   At least I do.  Paging Ms. Hyde….Ms. Ubetter Hyde…..

A few months ago, author Nancy Horan was on The Diane Rehm Show on NPR.  The topic was Nancy’s latest novel Under the Wide and Starry Sky.  It’s a novel about Robert Louis Stevenson and his ten years to his senior wife, Fanny Osbourne.  Nancy said Louis, as he was called, had a horrible dream one night that inspired him to start writing a new novel.  After writing nearly nonstop for three days, he had written 30,000 words.  I can barely write 400 in week… Anyway, Louis read what he had written to Fanny.  She didn’t like it. He didn’t like it that she didn’t like it.  Fanny thought he was being too narrow, too confining with one of the character’s sins.  But she saw the potential.  Fanny told Louis that he had the opportunity to write a truly great allegory that would be timeless and apply to all humanity if he would just widen his gaze.  Louis was a smart man – he listened to his wife.  Very smart.  He burned his first manuscript and in three more days, wrote another 30,000 words that eventually became The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  And the rest, as they say, is history…

Yin and yang, light and darkness, love and hate, nice and nasty, plums and prunes.  The duality of life.  Putting two people together to make one.  Or splitting one apart to make two.  Like death, nobody escapes.

I guess even the incredibly nice people I know have their struggles with Mr./Ms. Hyde.  Maybe they’re just more successful than most in minimizing the “power of the dark side”.  Or in accepting it and thereby transforming all of that negative juju.  That’s a lesson I’m still learning.

You know the old adage you can tell how nice a person really is by how they treat a food server?

Okay, I’m feeling better about myself now.

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