1 post

Breakfast with Tolstoy

One of my gifts to myself this year was Tolstoy’s A Calendar of Wisdom, a book offering a page of wise thoughts for each day of the year. What does it look like? Not much, which is what I like best.

Emblematic of its humility are the themes for each page. Tolstoy offers a few quotes sourced from various religions and cultures, then offers his own two rubles. By way of example, here is the entry for today, April 23rd, where the theme is one of my favorites, simplicity.


Real goodness is always simple.

Simplicity is so attractive and so profitable that it is strange that so few people lead truly simply lives.

Do not seek happiness elsewhere. Give thanks to God, who made necessary things simple, and complicated things unnecessary.  — Gregory Skovoroda

Most of our spending is done to forward our efforts to look like others. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every great thing is done in a quiet, humble, simple way; to plow the land, to build houses, to breed cattle, even to think — you cannot do such things when there are thunder and lightning around you. Great and true things are always simple and humble.

No one looks less simple than those people who artificially strive to seem so. Artificial simplicity is the most unpleasant of all artificial things.


Except for the two attributions, all words are Tolstoy’s. Tomorrow’s entry, with a theme of bravery, quotes the Bible (Book of John) and Cicero. Some entries quote the Talmud, scientists, philosophers, writers, Confucius, Eastern wisdom, Persian wisdom, etc.

All in all, not a bad (or terribly difficult) way to start the day — with words and with meaning.