I don't agree with all of David Brooks' columns, but this one is a pleasure to read. As we are entering the season of commencement speeches (at least in the United States), this leads the way: advice for how to live, but with a lot more sophistication than "be your best self." Brooks urges his readers to recognize dependency, make room for relationships, acknowledge and learn from self-defeat, and aspire to humility. Not bad advice, I'd say!
The stumbler doesn’t build her life by being better than others, but by being better than she used to be. Unexpectedly, there are transcendent moments of deep tranquillity. For most of their lives their inner and outer ambitions are strong and in balance. But eventually, at moments of rare joy, career ambitions pause, the ego rests, the stumbler looks out at a picnic or dinner or a valley and is overwhelmed by a feeling of limitless gratitude, and an acceptance of the fact that life has treated her much better than she deserves. Those are the people we want to be.