Thursday, March 24, 2011

Big and small potatoes

My high school district recently decided that private schools have no right to hog all the alumni love and dollars in America, and began soliciting donations and sending out an occasional alumni newsletter with updates on the lives of some tiny proportion of its graduates. If nothing else, this newsletter demonstrates just why it is that these kinds of materials should be limited to private schools, particularly those where competition and self-promotion are more thoroughly ingrained. The newsletter informs me that someone from the class of 2005 won a local mural contest and someone from the class of 1987 self-published his self-help book. Someone from the class of 1992 works at a pizza restaurant and someone else works in the district administration. And several people from various classes are dead--announcements which are indelicately interspersed among the sunnier news.

By contrast, the much glossier UChicago alumni magazine offers a picture of lives lived and promoted on a larger scale (as well as a segregated morgue). Research scientists and international journalists and...the Oregon State varsity basketball coach? The back matter feature book publications, promotions to law firm partnerships, world travels culminating in gallery openings, and so on. (The older alumni make a point of emphasizing their world travels, as if to dispel any suspicion that their age has slowed them down. I suppose this is what instills jealousy among the 60+ crowd the way that making partner is the 35 year-old's way of grinning smugly in 20 words?)

But. District 219 reminds us that it has one alumnus of note who will put all of UChicago's feverishly competitive strivers to shame. He is featured in every issue of the alumni newsletter, and his success is apparently not intended to diminish the rest of us toiling away at our pizza restaurants and writing our self-help books, but rather to lift us up with him. His triumph gives us all a name. And who is this great-souled being? As it turns out, the guy who founded is a Niles West alum. But that's not all. Not only did he found, but he has also recently launched a new Verily, through him, we touch eternity.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can tell you're feeling much better.