great passage from War and Peace

“The Bible legend tells us that the absence of labor-idleness- was a
condition of the first man’s blessedness before the Fall. Fallen man
has retained a love of idleness, but the curse weighs on the race not
only because we have to seek our bread in the sweat of our brows, but
because our moral nature is such that we cannot be both idle and at
ease. An inner voice tells us we are in the wrong if we are idle. If
man could find a state in which he felt that though idle he was
fulfilling his duty, he would have found one of the conditions of
man’s primitive blessedness. And such a state of obligatory and
irreproachable idleness is the lot of a whole class- the military.
The chief attraction of military service has consisted and will
consist in this compulsory and irreproachable idleness.”

It’s astounding how often in War and Peace Tolstoy is able to write
about overwhelming elements of human experience as easily as if he
were observing a rock in his front yard. In this case, his
description of obligatory and irreproachable idleness captures one of
the pleasures of being a parent: even something as lazy as a late-
morning nap feels purposeful, even dutiful, when taken alongside a
sleeping child.

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