A Prickly Nightingale

According to a recent biography, Florence Nightingale was "devout and unforgiving, inexhaustible and chronically unwell." What history remembers is that she fought against limitations imposed on her by her gender and launched what we now call the modern health care system. Apparently she also saw "earthly friendships as a hindrance on the path to true righteousness." Obviously a complicated and complicating woman. She is said to have been so driven that she worked two of her loyal followers to death. But what struck me about her life was not the details (didn't finish the book) but the concluding words of a short review:

"This is a terrific biography of a woman to whom we owe a great deal, but would perhaps never want to meet." Mark Bostridge

Got any nightingales in your life?

I have just one in mine right now, though in the past I have had many more, some as big a vultures. A nightingale is someone we admire, someone we share an abiding passion with or even someone we love but . . . someone who we just cannot tolerate being around. I know I have been a nightingale myself at times, in fact I remember being shouted at by an olde flame, she really could have used this newly coined association with nightingale; it would have saved her a lot of four letter approximations.

I truly admire individuals who can look beyond the befuddling, muddling, perplexing exterior to the heart of gold, silver, bronze or platinum. Those with that patience make great social workers and I think good mothers must have a modicum or more of such grace. Me -- well I am an advocate of the timely retreat or the cowardly pythonesque run away. But this time, with this nightingale, I am going to attempt to work through the gritty, abrasive interpersonal slime and see what might be on the other side. And I am going to start that soon, maybe next week or right after the solstice.