Question: What is the measure of a good life?
Billy Collins: I think decency to people. Courtesy is very much a part of it, I think. I keep going back to Wordsworth, but he he suggested our . . . the better part of our lives is – the thread that connects our lives – is composed of what he calls little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love. And it’s very important that these acts are unremembered. You know, if you do something consciously for someone and remember it . . . Well I mean, an endowment is a nice thing to do and get your name on the gymnasium or the library. That’s one kind of contribution. But equally as important, I think, to stitch your days together is just a kind of moving through the world with a kind of courtesy. I think that leads to . . . It seems almost trivial in terms of . . . like a point of etiquette . . . but I think courtesy leads to much biggest things. But you have to start with the tiny gestures.