How are you doing with the new year resolutions?  Do they feel long ago and fallen by the wayside, after the first burst of the year has moved into the realities of daily life and human frailty?  It happens to me regularly, but I have another bigger resolution, which will probably take a full life time even if it can be done.  The short version is ‘Remember Alfonso!’

Alfonso of Naples, that is, described by Jacob Burckhardt in such a way that implied he managed to be brilliant in every part of his existence.  This struck me as a fabulous rallying cry and all-embracing motto for life, even if Alfonso wasn’t in all respects the ideal role model. 

Of course, there is a place for all those precise goals and targets you think up (or recycle) every new year in a surge of resolution, but don’t lose sight of the end game, life’s purpose or ‘Endzweck’ as Bach would have put it.  And if someone asks you what that is and you want to head them off at the pass, you can airily, breezily, casually announce, ‘Oh, to be brilliant in every part of my existence. And you?’ 

You’ll either make a friend for life, all you’ll see them look doubtful.


Inspiration: Jacob Burckhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, trans. SGC Middlemore (Penguin, 1990) and, of course, Alfonso himself, long may he dazzle.

Photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon at

1 Comment

  1. Well

    It inspires me to search for brilliance, even in my imperfections!


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