Michel de Montaigne's Essais help us better frame and address the fundamental question: "how to live?"
"I have never seen a greater monster or miracle than myself", said Montaigne, describing his own poor memory, his ability to solve problems and mediate conflicts without truly getting emotionally involved, his disgust for man's pursuit of lasting fame, and his attempts to detach himself from worldly things to prepare for death.
To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony - William Henry Channing
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In the 1840s Henry David Thoreau swapped his busy schedule in Concord, Massachusetts, for a wooden hut he built himself near Walden Pond. We had the privilege to visit Walden in July 2012; it exceeded expectations in its tranquillity and beauty - and the swim in the pond itself was unforgettable.
Writing in the winter of 1843, shortly after Margaret Fuller’s mentorship made him a writer, the twenty-five-year-old Thoreau awakened to a snow-covered wonderland and marvelled at the splendour of a world reborn.
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According to the always interesting Maria Popova, artist and writer Austin Kleon was invited to give a talk to students, the backbone for which was a list of 10 things he wished he’d heard as a young creator:
So widely did the talk resonate that Kleon decided to deepen and enrich its message in Steal Like an Artist. While all 10 tips illustrated above make sense, nos. 2, 3, 4, 6 and 10 resonate with me in particular.
So come, my friends, be not afraid.
We are so lightly here.
It is in love that we are made;
In love we disappear
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