by Troy Chapman
As I sit here this morning with my paper in my lap and my pen at the ready, I feel like I’m looking at the world through gauze. I’ve had some kind of viral thing for several weeks, it’s an overcast day, I’m behind on my work and church last night felt like a visit to a mental institution. All the ingredients for an “I’m sick of it all” attitude.
The only problem is, I’ve assigned myself the task of writing about and meditating on good will this month. So I’m thinking about good will behind or beside all of the above. I spent some time chasing it around my brain and looking at it intellectually, but that bore no fruit. Then I stopped and just made an inner effort to bring it up in myself. I began thinking of different people and trying to generate good will toward them. I thought about my cellmates: Steve who sleeps under me, Donny who’s across on the other top bunk, and Wilford, who’s on the other bottom bunk. I silently wished them well and then rejected that because it came from my brain and forgot to bring my heart.
I dove a little deeper and finally felt it — good will from the heart. Just well-wishing from that place where we think without words. I cast my mind out further, toward other people, calling them to mind and directing that feeling toward them, as if throwing rose petals from a big basket. Petals that I’d gathered for this specific purpose and which would wilt and die if I didn’t throw them. So, why not?
I threw them by the handfuls, into surprised faces, that sometimes smiled, sometimes frowned and brushed at their clothes as if I was throwing batshit instead of rose petals. It made me smile. Then it made me laugh at our crazy humanness.
Then in the midst of this I realized that I’d forgotten myself. And it felt like exactly what I needed. My muscles, which I hadn’t even realized were slightly tensed, relaxed and some new chemical flowed in my veins. My feet felt good; I was glad I had them. My neck relaxed; I breathed a little deeper. And I remembered something I keep forgetting. I mean I forget it a few hundred times a week, but right then, I remembered it again: Good will is good for you. Good for your mind, your body and your soul. When we’re not feeling it, it feels like some kind of obligation, some kind of job that we “ought to do.” But when we’re in it, it feels like a favor to ourselves, like remembering who we are after forgetting for awhile, like waking up our heart.