Do you ever find a literary character so well-written that s/he seems almost as real to you as an actual person? Do you ever miss ‘spending time with’ this figment of some intrepid author’s imagination?
As I mentioned a few days ago, I went to the library to pick up a copy of Alexander McCall Smith’s newest No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novel. Naturally, I’ve been reading myself to sleep with this fine book each night since then. Precious Ramotswe, the main character in this beautiful series, is my favourite literary character to spend time with. If only he could write these books as fast as I read them…
Last night I read a part that embodies the gentle humanity I find so delightful in the pages of Alexander McCall Smith’s books… Precious (a private detective) has been conversing with a man who requires some sensitivity as he is a bit short on confidence. As they discussed a small matter relating to her business, she kindly refrained from laughing at him and instead behaved with a measure of grace most of us could learn from, thus helping him to save face while altering his course a little for professional purposes. After this brief exchange, she reflected (as she often does in these stories).
“She was relieved, and as she drove away, leaving him to his task, she thought of how important it was to go halfway in any disagreement- to see the other person’s point of view and to find the positive side of it…. if you expressed their viewpoint rather than your own, then you found that they often came round to seeing things as you saw them.”
I’m positive that with this kind of empathy and effort to get along, life would be better for all of us. I’ve had several experiences with this in my personal life as I’ve become more aware of empathy and its earth-shaking role in positive human relations. It’s amazing how much more open we tend to feel toward someone who is trying to understand us, even when that takes some imagination. It’s the caring that counts.
I appreciate Mma Ramotswe’s positive influence on me. Every single time I pass a little time in her company.
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