work-in-progress oil painting of our first house, by my mama
It was my birthday. I was at work. Unbeknownst to me, my mom was across town, chatting it up with an old business-acquaintance-turned-family-friend.
Will and I were recently engaged, a bit of news my mom shared with her friend.
Will and I were hoping we’d find the right place to live when the time came, and my mom knew it. Maybe she mentioned it to her friend because she works in real estate; maybe she mentioned it simply because she was a mother, and her friend was one, too, and they were sharing their hopes and dreams for their kids.
Regardless of why my mom brought it up, she did. Her friend’s unexpected response was, “They are? I have a house they might be interested in.”
Six weeks later, she sold us our first house. It was a wonderful house, in an excellent location. She could have sold it to someone else who could have closed more quickly (because let me tell you, getting that first mortgage was no joke). She could have asked a higher price, and she would have gotten it. Easily.
But she didn’t. Out of the goodness of her heart, she sold it to us.
I thought of this old friend recently when I was listening to this TED talk by David Brooks.
It’s a short talk—only 5 minutes. In it, David Brooks talks about the difference between the resumé virtues and the eulogy virtues.
The resumé virtues are the external ones: the skills you bring to the marketplace, the ones you put on your resumé. The eulogy virtues go deeper, describing who you are in your depths, and what characterizes your relationships. They’re the traits that would be highlighted in your eulogy.
The eulogy virtues are more important, but they’re not the ones we think about the most or prioritize. Not most of us, anyway.
Our friend died recently. I wasn’t at her funeral, but I can imagine what her friends and family said in her eulogy. She had plenty of resumé virtues, all right, but she didn’t prioritize them, and they’re not what she’ll be remembered for, not by Will, nor I, nor anyone else.
We’ll remember her as someone who gave a young couple their start because she could, and she believed it was worth doing. As someone who could have been shrewd, but chose to be kind. As someone who could have eked more profit out of her deals, but chose to be generous.
P.S. 5 favorite TED talks.