Good Intentions/The Road to Hell

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

The modern expression, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” was first published in Henry G. Bohn’s A Hand-book of Proverbs in 1855. An earlier iteration, “Hell is full of good meanings and wishes”, was published in 1670 in A Collection of English Proverbs collected by John Ray. The exact origin of this proverb is unknown and its form has evolved over time. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” is a saying that has been attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux (1091—1153), but that cannot be verified. The earliest known text resembling this phrase occurs in Virgil’s Aeneid: “facilis descensus Averno (the descent to hell is easy)”.

I hope that it’s not just only me who has occasion to quote that proverb in current times. It is consistent with every “I was going to do it, but…” excuse any of us has or is going to use. “I was going to stop and fill your car up with gas to thank you for letting me use it, but…the line was too long.” “I was going to pick up your dry-cleaning but… the baby’s been fussy all day and then my sister had to call and tie me up with the latest drama in her life.” “I meant to stop at the mechanic’s when the ‘check engine’ light came on but…” “I wanted to make reservations for dinner out for our anniversary but…” Okay, I could come up with a zillion of these, but you get the picture. Small or large reasons, we all try to concoct a contrite reason why we didn’t do something we should have/were supposed to have done, and we’re all guilty of going to hell because we had good intentions of doing whatever it was.

My faith knows this is propaganda, that there needs to be more than that reason why we may end up in hell. We’d be far more likely to be sent to hell for lying by misusing the good intentions theory when it’s not really true. Who of us is insane enough to tell our significant other, child, family member, important friend, etc. that we “just didn’t feel like it”?

I’ve started many of my days recently looking at little things – chores and the like but nothing significant – and my head tells me to just get up and do some of them. I look at the bigger chores that would make me happy if they were accomplished, and can now immediately dismiss them as impossible or impractical with my shoulder/arm situation. (Okay, Brad and Joanne, that may be another reason I’m procrastinating about physical therapy!)

Most of what I see, when I look around at things I can do and the ones I don’t think I should do yet, has to do with cleaning. I was so damned proud when I deep-cleaned my bedroom in early April, wiping down woodwork dusting the ceiling and walls, washing windows, laundering curtains and dresser runners, etc., moving every piece of furniture that I could move without help. I was so excited about how clean it was that I set up the organization I would need to start on my living room next. I didn’t even know that I’d done something to mess up my shoulder, because I didn’t have any kind of problem or pain for a few days after. But whatever the cause, the pain became evident before I could start my living room and my chiropractor’s diagnosis was a dislocated shoulder. Painfully, he got it back in place, but I’m dealing with side effects now that really do prevent me from raising my arm high or using pressure of it on something. So, there’s a very good chance that no more deep-cleaning will happen this year.

And that’s probably why I don’t even want to bother with regular cleaning. I want to really clean, really enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes from knowing how genuinely clean the room is. If that’s what I want, than doing anything less than that just seems worthless!

So here I am, with good intentions but… I’ve been here before. When my parents first moved to Florida to retire, long distance was costly, so letters were my recourse. My dad used to call my letters “Epistles” because they were always 3 or more typed pages. Sometimes, when I’d been stagnant about stories with which to regale them, it might take me longer than usual between letters. And most of the ones following started out with saying the proverb “the path to hell” because I always had good intentions about wanting to sit down and type a letter…

I’m always wanting to write something for my blog. My writings don’t follow any schedule, but I think I need to be somewhat consistent with putting something out there. My good intentions are prominent, but… if my life isn’t exciting to me, how the hell will it hold any excitement for anyone else?

And so, if the proverb is indeed true, I know I’m going to have to get used to the hot weather about which I’m not fond. On the bright side, I suspect I’m gonna know a lot of other souls when I get there.

Go ahead, tell me you’re not guilty!!!