“When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts, nothing helps me so much as running to my books. They quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind.” Michel de Montaigne
Just to refresh your memory, Montaigne is the 16th century winegrower who virtually invented a genre of writing: the essay. As he himself describes it, an essay is an “attempt” or “trial” — a freewheeling or focused exploration of a theme. Michel wrote over 100 of these spirited investigations of his own mind and the human condition. Here’s a sampling:
By diverse means we arrive at the same end.
Our feelings reach out beyond us.
How our mind hinders itself.
Today, February 28, is Michel’s birthday — let’s savor and apply his wit and wisdom:
“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”
“My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened.”
“A wise man never loses anything, if he has himself.”
“I study myself more than any other subject. That is my metaphysics, that is my physics.”
“Ignorance is the softest pillow on which a man can rest his head.”
“Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul.”
“The value of life lies not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them…Whether you find satisfaction in life depends not on your tale of years, but on your will.”
“He who fears he shall suffer, already suffers what he fears. “
“How many things served us yesterday for articles of faith, which today are fables for us?”
“To compose our character is our duty, not to compose books, and to win, not battles and provinces, but order and tranquility in our conduct. Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live appropriately. All other things, ruling, hoarding, building, are only little appendages and props, at most.”
“Let us give Nature a chance; she knows her business better than we do.”
“Obsession is the wellspring of genius and madness.”
“The greater part of the world’s troubles are due to questions of grammar.”
“The most certain sign of wisdom is cheerfulness.”
Inspired and ignited by Michel’s insights and sage advice, let’s all write on!
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