Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Happy Birthday, Leo!

“He soon felt that the fulfillment of his desires gave him only one grain of
the mountain of happiness he had expected. This fulfillment showed him the 
eternal error men make in imagining that their happiness 
depends on the realization of their desires.” 
― Leo TolstoyAnna Karenina

I remember the first time I opened the pages of this book. I had done my fair share of reading in high school, and was more than annoyed that I couldn't test out of Rhetoric and Composition as freshman requirements. Really quite annoyed. I wish at the time I would have been able to sink into the gift that I had in a teaching assistant, who, unlike me, recognized in me a gift and appreciation for writing and literature. She gave me this book as a recommendation, not a requirement of her class, and I pored over the pages fascinated by every word. I fell in love with Leo Tolstoy. His ability to make the written word come alive, to choreograph a story to dance in your soul, was unlike anything I had read.

Sadly, it has been many, many moons since I have picked up one of his novels. While he is a master of the written word, one thing he is not is concise. Let's face it, it is daunting to think of reading anything more than a thumb's width in length with two whirling dirvishes running amuck under our roof!

When I opened up Google today, though, up popped a doodle honoring his birthday, and I felt like I had happened upon an old friend. If you have never read his work, I would highly recommend giving it a try, even if it is a month (or two or three) long adventure. That is precisely what I have found - reading Tolstoy is an adventurous ride through life, exploring timeless struggles of the human spirit - longing, love, loss, purpose, worth, meaning.

I raise a glass to you Mr. Tolstoy. Maybe I will even dare to dust off a few of your stories and venture into another world for awhile. Maybe.

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