2 October 2015
It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love?
We all know that the eulogy virtues are more important than the résumé ones. But our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light. Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character. ~David Brooks
It’s rained since I wrote my last post about appreciating our pantries. Fall moved into the earth, the fragrance of moistness a benediction in the dry hills here. Yesterday, the stark call of a Flicker shot through my window and I glanced up, catching the vivid orange flash of its wings and welcoming its arrival for the cold season. Plump acorns are rolling under my feet as I run the trails. The deer chomp them. The fat-tailed squirrels hide them for later.
All of this is familiar, the natural order as I know it, soothing and grounding me. There’s comfort in all that.
At the same time, one of the things I love about language is how it can expand the landscape of my thoughts, offering me new territory to roam, new places to investigate and perhaps even inhabit.
The quote above gave me a new way to think about the stores in my pantry. Eulogy skills. What do those look like? What would I want people to say about me after I’m not hiking the hills anymore? And, what might I do to help those skills flourish?
Skills like generosity. Wisdom. Caring.
For me, reflecting on this is not about what anyone will actually say after I’m gone.
It’s all about creating days today that honor what we deeply value. It’s about tending the pantry of our lives, creating an abundance of the goods on our shelves that bring satisfaction to our hearts.
For a touching, intimate view of a man who was so often defined in terms of his résumé, see Mona Simpson’s eulogy for her brother, Steve Jobs, here.