Jul 202011

“Every Day is a Good Day” is a common English translation of the Japanese proverb 日々是好日 (often pronounced nichi nichi kore ko jitsu).

I came across nichi nichi kore ko jitsu around the time my interest in Zen and Calligraphy became more serious, and assumed it must describe an advanced state of mind (maybe after Enlightenment), when whatever happens to you is just good.

Alas, after years of practice, I still experienced a considerable number of bad days. I started to hate this “Every Day is a Good Day”, since it reminded me every day of my very limited progress. Not even my number of good days significantly increased!

This must be part of Orwell’s Newspeak, I finally concluded, where by erasing certain words (“bad day”) one attempts to re-define the reality, well in opposite to the obvious facts.  “Every Day is a Good Day” is simply a lie, which does not become more true when repeating it over and over again! No matter its source is the famous collection of koan, called Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku)

But eventually, I realised that the third Japanese character in the proverb, namely the 好 (“ko”), has a variety of connotations, aside of the usual “good”. It is often used in a sense of “to like” or “to have an intimate relation with”. Composed of the two elementary characters for “women” (女) and “child” (子), it maybe evokes the intimate relation of mother and child: an unconditional, fundamental affection, but not a statement about “good” or “bad”. Actually, (most) parents love their kids, also on days when they do something bad!

Understood this way, the 好 (“ko”) has an active component, of to like something, or to be engaged in a friendly, affirmative relation with something. It reflects my personal, emotional attitude!

Nowadays, I translate 日々是好日 (nichi nichi kore ko jitsu) as “Every Day is Welcome”, or “I Like every Day”, be it a bad or a good day!