“Montaigne on The Most Illustrious of Your Occupations”

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“Our world is formed only for ostentation; men inflate themselves with wind and go bounding around like balls.

“We are great fools. ‘He has spent his life in idleness,’ we say.  ‘I have done nothing today.’  What have you not lived? That is the most illustrious of your occupations.

“‘If I had been placed in a position to manage great affairs,’ we say, ‘I would have demonstrated….’ Have you been able to think out and manage your own life? You have done the greatest task of all.  Nature has no need of fortune to show and expose her resources; she shows herself equally on all levels, behind a curtain as well as without.

“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 masterpiece is to live appropriately. All other things, ruling, hoarding, building are only little appendages.

“There is nothing so beautiful and legitimate as to live your life well and properly, no knowledge so hard to acquire as the knowledge of how to live life well and naturally; and the most barbarous of our maladies is to despise our being.”

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