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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Intersecting Roads

I'm so glad "The Road To Character" (2015) by David Brooks was not released until four years after the inception of my blog. First, my entire series called "My Grade (So Far)" - begun in February 2012 - would likely have never gotten off the ground. Second, several posts from "Words That Can Haunt Me" wouldn't have been published either. In both cases, I would have worried about readers wondering if I'd cribbed some of the provocative ideas from  "The Road To Character".

To be clear: I'm not making an immodest claim to be in the same ballpark as David Brooks. He's a widely respected NY Times columnist, accomplished author and trenchant social critic. Read this book and you might join me as a convert. In addition to previous experience with his work, my own interest in "The Road To Character" began months ago when the Times ran an excerpt from the forthcoming book as an op-ed piece, including the intriguing notion Brooks uses to begin -  his distinction between "resume virtues" and "eulogy virtues". The author goes on to illustrate how modern life has slowly moved us off the road to character - elevating resume virtues and downplaying eulogy virtues - via meticulously researched biographical essays. The broad parallels to my blog occurred to me while reading his vivid depictions of these flawed people.
I freely admit to what Brooks calls the most venal of sins - pride - when several of his eulogy virtues (e.g. honesty, humility, generosity) overlapped with attributes already featured in "My Grade (So Far)". There was also a sweet pain when this talented author extolled grace, among the first of my haunting words.

So, even though I'm not in the same ballpark, is it ridiculous to claim I'm playing a similar sport? Track, perhaps? Clunky metaphor continued, I'm obligated to say Brooks is clearly a champion long distance runner and yours truly a sprinter who hasn't yet entered a competitive race. But ... there's still time.

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