I have been fascinated with the French philosopher Montaigne since Hugh Hewitt challenged me to emulate him and stand as a "Montaigne" beside a like-minded social early adopter.
Have you ever read Montaigne's Essays?
He had a wonderful life. His father waked him each morning with music and he did not speak his own language until he was six, having a German tutor who did not speak French. The Latin authors remained his closest literary friends throughout his life.
Many of his essays are well worth reading; most are much more than that. "Of Idleness," "Of The Education of Children," "Of Cannibals," "Of the Inconsistency of Our Actions," "Of Giving the Lie," "Of Repentance," "Of Vanity," "Of Experience" - that is just the beginning of a list of recommended selections.
Montaigne wrote about himself, but you will recognize yourself. That is the mystery, the secret of his greatness. He knew himself so well, he looked at himself so honestly, that he saw through himself to the general human nature, which is ours as well (it has not changed much since the sixteenth century). He knew other men, and women too, I think, in high places and in low, and he also forgave them. For they too were human. He would forgive you - even you!
This is the way Essays ends. It is Montaigne's gift to all of us.
"It is an absolute perfection and virtually divine to know how to enjoy our being lawfully. We seek other conditions because we do not understand the use of our own, and go outside of ourselves because we do not know what it is like inside. Yet there is no use our mounting on stilts, for on stilts we must still walk on our own legs. And on the loftiest throne in the world we are still sitting on our own behind."
-Excerpted from The Joy of Reading by Charles Van Doren