In this New York Times piece [The Moral Bucket List], David Brooks discusses the gap between our notions of social achievement and our attainment of more intrinsic goals. We lack the vocabulary to discuss and measure our progress toward being better human beings.
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...
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... Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character.
We once had a dog, Arrow, who was like some sort of Platonic ideal of a dog. He was incredibly smart and willful, had a huge personality, and loved interacting with anyone we met. Strangers seemed drawn to him. Everyone, everyone adored Arrow. When he died, I realized without rancor that he was probably more beloved by the world than I was. He didn't materially change the lives of people around him, never raised a big family, never did anything that would fit on a resume. But he fulfilled his purpose completely. He had a meaningful place in the world because of what he was.
When I think about it, Arrow is still one of my heroes.