A Man Puts Away Childish Things

Question: Would you choose a prestigious degree over an education?

The two are as different as the divide between intelligence and wisdom.

One is the result of discipline of a kind — a sort of mental wiring I confess I do not possess — in which a person acts like a flesh and blood version of a Google algorithm, performing a series of functions — and only those functions — so he may highlight (in yellow) one paragraph from a great volume of history or literature, absorb a specific group of facts, memorize a particular set of names and numbers, and recite (on cue) the who, what and how of testable material without ever bothering to learn the why of existence; while the latter is, to borrow a phrase from a former president of a certain initial (“Dubya”) and Texan pride, all too aware that young and irresponsible people have a tendency to act like . . . young and irresponsible people.

I stand guilty as charged, but I have an education.

I have an education born of a passion for learning.

My classroom is the sound stage and the recording studio.

My auditorium ranges from the luxury of wealth and privacy to the privations of the street and the poison of privilege.

My junior year abroad is a catalog of the imagination, of books read slowly and tomes savored scrupulously.

My graduation ceremony has no cap and gown.

It has no honors and salutations, except one: I am alive.

I am healthy — and happy — because I am wise to the gift of life.

I am content to listen and learn, to observe an artist at work and to enjoy an actor practice his craft.

I am thankful for my family.

And yes, I am grateful to you.