The newspaper reports that my older son was among those receiving "first honors" as a senior at the high school he attends. Naturally, I am pleased as punch and proud of him even if I am not entirely sure what "first honors" may mean. Good marks, I imagine.
I congratulated my son and then I asked him if it was hard to achieve "first honors." He replied with a terse, "No." And I am not sure exactly what that 'no' means either. Immodest modesty? A statement of fact? A skeptical eye on the yardsticks used to measure achievement? I really didn't know.
But that didn't change my congratulations or pride. Within his particular realm and measured within that realm, he had done well ... and I was glad for him.
Interesting -- whether it's a Nobel Prize or a high-school "first honors," it doesn't matter so much what you know. What matters is, what will you do with what you know?
Once upon a time several years back, the Dalai Lama came here and lectured at a local college. The tickets were pretty much sold out and I didn't really have the energy or desire to try to scrape one up, so I watched a bit of his talk on TV.
Again and again and again (until I finally turned to TV off) he encouraged his audience to put their intellectual achievements to good use. Given his robes and his twinkle-y delivery, I imagine some in the audience might have imagined he was talking about something spiritual or something holy.
But I doubt that's what he meant. I don't think he was out to make a bunch of lock-step little Buddhists or a bunch of sappy, serene saints. Rather I think he hoped and encouraged the good use of good tools: Look in the tool box, see what you've got; imagine what you might do ... and then do it. If you make a mistake, correct it. That's all.
Everyone has "first honors" tools at hand. It's just a question of using them for "first honors" ends.