Reading for Tuesday, 14 April

In this beautifully written little chapter, Pierre finally at last achieves the peace and satisfaction that he’s been looking for, in the middle of being a POW.

I’ll let you read the chapter for yourself, but there is a large degree of truth in the idea of contentment. When it’s possible to have anything you want (which it pretty much is in the West), you’re never satisfied.

But contentment is found in being satisfied with what you’ve got.

Granted, you’ve got to be careful that you don’t use this as an excuse to think that anybody living in poverty could just cheer themselves up – but nonetheless, this is a good chapter to ponder, if you’re feeling dissatisfied with all the stuff you have in your life.

Also, most interesting at the end – after being looked down upon and the butt of everyone’s jokes for the entire book – Pierre is now looked up to and respected. It’s taken us nine months, but the wheels have turned full circle.

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2 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 13.12 – Contentment

  1. I found myself thinking a lot about this chapter and the message it was giving. Pierre’s recongition of what really matters, and of where happiness really lies, is, I guess, the crux of things here. For him, he could only learn that lesson through the hardship of poverty – and, of course, through his encounter with Platon and his witnessing of the executions. So I don’t think for a moment that Tolstoy is suggesting that the poor need only cheer themselves up (and I know, Matt, you’re not suggesting that’s his message either), but rather that it was via this time of hardship that Pierre came to recognise what really matters. We can all find our own paths to that realisation, I guess – but, no matter how you get there, I think Tolstoy’s views was very much that it is ultimately the life of simplicity (as opposed to poverty) that is the happiest of all and, from what I know of his life, that’s pretty much the path that he ultimately took himself.

  2. Quoting Matt

    I’ll let you read the chapter for yourself, but there is a large degree of truth in the idea of contentment. When it’s possible to have anything you want (which it pretty much is in the West), you’re never satisfied.

    Unquote

    ??????????????????

    It is – possible to have anything you want, in the West? This might be true for some people, but not everyone.

    How about all those people who are kept down, living in slums, with very little money and poor sanitary conditions?

    Is it possible for them? How about all the blacks, the mexicans, the puerto ricans, etc. I’m sure they’d like more . . . maybe nice homes in good safe areas – I don’t seem them getting it.

    OK . . . I’d better shaddup’, or I’ll be off on a rant once again.

    ………………………….

    I, btw, want one of those dogs that the Obama family just got – I don’t suppose I’ll be getting one though – I understand they’re pretty expensive.

    ………………………….

    quoting matt again . . .

    Granted, you’ve got to be careful that you don’t use this as an excuse to think that anybody living in poverty could just cheer themselves up – but nonetheless, this is a good chapter to ponder, if you’re feeling dissatisfied with all the stuff you have in your life.

    unquote

    Sorry – I spoke too soon, didn’t I. You did acknowledge the poor . . . but still, it is ‘possible’, but highly unlikely.

    It’s the really poor people – like Mexicans who work for very little, that the rich make their money from. People who work dirt cheap, ’cause they need to have a job in order to stay in America (or Canada!) aren’t likely to find themselves in a situation where they can have anything they want.

    …………………………………..

    I think Pierre’s contentment was coming through the fact that he was, at that particular time, actually living in poverty. He was never happier! It was probably because he got a certain satisfaction from knowing he ‘could’ cope with very little.

    Up until then, he’d never had to really struggle for his existence.

    Also, keep in mind, that before this ‘state’ of poverty occurred in his life, he had very few people he could look up to and respect. His only real friend was Andrei . . . the rest of the people in his life were mostly shallow, frivolous sorts who never went hungry for so much as the space of an afternoon.

    In Platon, he found someone with real ‘soul’. That’s what was missing in his life – friends like Platon.

    Even Andrei didn’t have the kind of moxy Platon had.

    (Gee, I’m talking a lot tonight – anybody notice? Ha! Ha!)

    …………………………………..

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