I actually kind of liked it when Bob Dylan did not acknowledge receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature. I do not hold it against him that he finally made contact with the Committee though I note that he has announced that he will not be attending the ceremony. Another writer expressed discomfort in accepting the award yet did so likely out of respect for the Awarding Committee. That author was William Faulkner and here is a brief snippet of his acceptance speech in which he expresses a desire to stand up for those toiling as writers and artists, “…using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will someday stand where I am standing.”
I suppose I projected onto Dylan my own thoughts about awards and what they mean. I was the recipient of many awards in the course of my 25 year career as a CEO. As a part of my therapy upon losing my job, I re-evaluated each of them. I concluded that most were given to me because I had a wonderful staff who nominated me or because I was the “tip” of the iceberg of my world thus more visible and almost symbolic of those who worked hard in the shadows. I recall taking a particularly beautiful crystal eagle mounted on a wooden base to a trophy shop and asking that my brass plate be removed so that I could re-gift it as a display for another’s new office. The reaction of the shopkeeper was priceless – he stared at me as if I had two heads.
I believe that awards are wonderful if taken in a healthy context that others are likely as deserving if not more. The other issue I have with awards is that they give you a really creepy feeling that you have something to live up to in the eyes of others. That can make you do things that go against your better judgment and make decisions that feed ambition and not truth. Just as poets since time began have observed, a true thing is a thing unto itself. A bird sings because it is a bird not because someone gives it an award. Being myself and living within my own skin – warts and all – was a major part of my recovery. We are all artists if we hold to our core being and achieve because it is the right thing to do and be.