Don Williams
Photo by Justin Williams

Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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Take this advice born of wishes for a bright new millennium
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   12/31/1999)

Dear Alexis, Travis and Justin,

Happy New Millennium.

On this singular occasion, indulge your poor old gray-haired daddy, and listen to some advice born of wishes for you and your... our... descendants.

First of all, take the advice offered on your mother's newest bumper sticker: "Don't Postpone Joy." I can't say it better than that. Grant yourself happiness, laughter, celebration. Victories are plentiful, if you celebrate each one. Don't mistake instant gratification for joy, however, and fall prey to those who trade in addictions. What form these will take in the media-washed future I can't say....

Be alert to the beauty and peculiar graces that flow through your senses each particle of every second. Catch them in butterfly nets of perception, instant by instant. Especially take notice of the natural world. The blue heron rising from the creek, that undulating pattern of migrating geese, those lacy trees on the wintry hillside, the breath of lavender on the air in springtime. All are put at risk by progress.

Watch that word, progress.

Still, take pleasure in the human adventure. We live in times of RPMs--Revolutions Per Minute. In human genetics, cyber-space, nano-technology, medicine, particle physics, outer space. Keep up with scientific and technical advances. Be wary but be enthralled by the grand march of history. Understand that, just possibly, something profound, something that involves us all, flies into the heavens with those who go there.

Go there. Life is a banquet. Allow yourself to sample the world's many belief systems, but don't be seduced by "isms." No one set of principles, symbols or perspectives opens all the secret doorways to truth, justice, tranquility, transcendence or understanding. Every "ism" I ever embraced only reduced the wonder, complexity and majesty of this awesome universe. Don't be taken in.

Remember, if it makes you love your daddy less, it must be a mistaken idea.

Surround yourself with those who inspire and wish the best for you. Avoid the gossips, the jealous, the spiteful, the envious, and manipulators who stir them into action.

There are warm and wondrous people everywhere you turn. Walk away from those who aren't, while trying to wish them the best. This isn't always possible, but try.

Never be deliberately cruel.

Forgive others. Forgive yourself.

Seek your bliss, in the words of Joseph Campbell. Find something you love to do, then do it your whole life long. It will bring you close to people who share your passion, and you'll love what you do every day.

Grant yourself some magic. Pick up only those pennies that are heads-up.

Watch for four-leaf clovers. Sense that ace-of-hearts in the middle of the deck. Marvel at the Brazilian peasant who woke up with the ability to play Mozart. The twin who sensed her brother's death from a thousand miles away. Believe in synchronicity, collective yearnings, crop circles, Jung, relativity, other life in the universe.

Believe in God. Believe in redemption. Believe the soul survives the grave.

Believe in labyrinths and sound chambers. Pray, chant your mantra. Be still and know. Apprehend the universe in a blade of grass. A grain of sand. Note how expressive the trees are. Consider the notion that we are the universe apprehending itself. That we are that grand, and that small. Study cosmology. Believe in evolution. Believe the Bible. Love Jesus. Remember that some stories are true, even if they didn't happen.

Be skeptical. Be discerning. Don't mistake a charlatan for a prophet. A tree-farm for a forest. A terrorist for a statesman. A scheme for a dream. A paradigm for truth. Lust for love. Classification for comprehension. Style for substance. Irony for wisdom.

Take your vitamins. Remember to breath. Study up on herbs. Read books on how to live long and prosper. Doubt what you read. Believe what you read.

Embrace contradiction, uncertainty and change. These are forever.

Paint a picture, write a poem, start a business, learn to cook, make some babies, climb a mountain, live forever.

Consider the chrysalis.

Do your best. That's enough.

Love your daddy.

With Love, Your Daddy.