Friday, January 01, 2010


welcome, originally uploaded by patryfrancis.

Most of the resolutions I've made in the past haven't mattered much. While it's good to work out or eat well, to write a certain amount of words or meditate daily, and it's salutary to get up early in the morning (a resolution I've made repeatedly, but never mastered) none of those are essential to a successful life as a human being.

Good will is something else. If I sold a zillion books or ran marathons till I was ninety-five, what would it matter if I failed at good will? It seems to come naturally to a few effortlessly benevolent souls I've known. The rest of us have to rise to it, wake up to it, to realize all the stuff that blocks it--envy, fear, ego--is a lie, plain and simple. Lately, I've begun to fear that I might be ash and cinder before I get there.

So that's my one resolution: good will.

Good will in the sense of wishing the best for others. All of them. The ones I love and the ones I don't understand, the ones who agree with my most cherished beliefs and opinions, and the ones who violently oppose them.

Good will to those who extend the same to me.

And good will to those who don't.

I also mean to work on the other kind of good will. The kind Kant described, which is more like determining to do what's right in all circumstances. He uses a word I haven't always liked, but now am inclined to embrace: DUTY.

Good will to get up and do the work that is before me that day, no matter what it may be.

Without excuses. Without grumbling. Without delay.

Happy New Year.