He, that I call "Pure Wisdom" is a member of my most extended family. He was one of the brightest stars at one of the world's most technical companies, and now is one of its most senior managers. He is no longer concerned with technical issues because he says, "Old must be BOLD!"
We are, after all, are writing our Epitaph. We are writing our grave stone. Writing in stone takes great force. Yes, we need to be very bold.
There are many manuals for writing resumes, but there are few guides to writing good Epitaphs.
One was laid out by Ina Corina Brown in the course she taught as a Peabody Scholar. Sometimes it was offered as a set of things to do on a regular basis, and sometimes it was offered as a personal performance test. Here is one of the test versions.
1. Do I seek to to achieve personal growth and development by means of some plan whereby I can enlarge my horizons as well as fill gaps in my knowledge an experience?
2. Do I subscribe to or regularly access:
2.1. Some reliable news media?
2.2. Some quality magazines dealing with current thought?
2.3. Some magazines devoted at least in part to book reviews and literary criticism?
2.4. First rate professional journals?
3. Do I read at least 2 dozen serious books in the field of biography, history, current affairs, and literature (including classics read and reread)?
4. Do I make some serious effort in increase my understanding and appreciation of art, literature, and music through the use of pictures, lectures, concerts, records, plays, books and the selective use of radio, TV, and Utube ?
5. Do I follow some consistent plan for building a library, including dictionaries, atlases, encyclopedias, religious texts, and reference books such as Bartlett's Quotations, Fowler's English Usage, and more modern texts on the topic?
6. Do I have some consistent plan for professional reading, and for professional growth and development?
7. Do I have an interest in, and an awareness of, the world of nature so that I can identify and enjoy birds, flowers, trees, stars, and landscapes?
8. Do I have some enriching and relaxing hobby or interest such as weaving, wood or leather working, cabinet making, book binding or gardening?
9. Do I belong to and actively participate in at least 3 of the following:
9.1. A religious body?
9.2. A civic group?
9.3. A political group?
9.4. A literary, art or music group?
9.5. A scientific group?
9.6. A social action group?
9.7. A professional society?
10. Do I have some consistent and orderly plan for budgeting and handling my income so that:
10.1. I am able to meet my obligations promptly?
10.2. Get the greatest possible benefit form my income?
10.3. Make reasonable provision for the future?
11. Do I have some consistent can orderly plan for budgeting my time so that I can:
11.1. Meet my personal and professional obligations?
11.2. Render service to my fellowmen?
11.3. Have time for enriching leisure?
12. Do I take care of my health through habits of eating and sleeping, judicious use of exercise and rest, and regular physical examinations including eyes and teeth?
13. Am I particular in habits of personal cleanliness and grooming, and in selection, care and repair of clothing?
14. Do I fulfill my obligation as a citizen by:
14.1. Voting regularly and as intelligently as possible?
14.2. Civic participation (serving on boards and committees, aiding in Red Cross and other drives and etc.?
14.3. Some regular volunteer service to an organization engaged in community betterment?
15. Am I careful in my oral and written speech habits including enunciation, pronunciation, vocabulary and sentence structure, and do I attempt to correct known deficiencies?
16. Do I practice the kind of good manners that come of a thoughtful awareness and consideration of others?
17. Have I honestly attempted to achieve those qualities of character that I most genuinely admire such as integrity, fortitude, compassion, tolerance?
18. Do I make a persistent effort to rub off the rough edges of my personality and to become a friendly, likable person who brings out the best in others?
19. Am I continuously enlarging the horizons of my knowledge, interest and concern so as to become in the best sense of the word, a citizen of the world?
20. Am I honestly trying to develop what Overstreet calls “The Mature Mind”, so that I may grow up before I grow old?
See for example http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-41198-154456/unrestricted/chap6.pdf
I transcribed the above from a hard copy, and I know there are some typos in it, but in accordance with "make it work, then make it pretty" I offer it up in its current state.
The other thing that I would add is that there is a lot of sloppy thinking out there. Sometimes details matter. And, when details matter, generalities fail. When someone tells you that woolen spun is warmer than worsted because woolen is looser and holds more air, ask yourself if they have the details correct.
Spinning, knitting, and waving are all technologies where details matter - a lot. And, yet I find that many modern hobby spinners, knitters, and weavers tend to gloss technical details. They pretend to want to spin or knit or weave fast, but avoid the tools that would allow them to work faster.
Thus, the 4 additional questions that I would add to ICB's exam are:
21. Am I honest with myself about my goals?
22. Do I test statements asserted by others as facts?
23. Do I keep my math sharp?
24. Do expand and deepen my knowledge of physical science?
Testing statements is not looking them up at some citation. It is either calculations from first principles, or going into the lab or studio, making the test equipment or preparing the test material and testing it. If you want to know whether I am telling the truth about what kind of fabrics are warmer, knit up some fabric swatches and test their insulation values. If you want to know if I am correct about knitting sheaths, make one and try it. Try it with pointy needles, then try it with blunt needles. I did.
By reading the classics, we learn, "Trust, but verify!"