A Call for Clouds

Day 279 of A Year of War and Peace

There is always the consolation that someone somewhere is having a worse day. In comparison to the darkness of another’s lot our own sometimes seems a bit more luminous. But that light is dim indeed that is powered by none other than the misery of another. What better response, then, for those like the officer in today’s chapter who find nothing but frustration and disappointment in their daily grind?

Poor guy.

He’s tasked with the simple order of delivering battle dispositions to Ermolov but is thwarted at every turn. Ermolov is never where he is supposed to be. The officer spends all day in a worried rut running here and there trying to deliver the battle plans and when he finally does locate Ermolov he finds that man . . . partying. By the chapter’s end the officer is totally demoralized.

If only he had been blessed with the brilliant sparkle and salutary sheen of pessimism. For the way to defeat disappointment is not to compare your situation favorably to the misfortune of others but, rather, to assume those misfortunes as your own.

Sunny forecasts can turn to showers but you’ll always bring an umbrella with a call for clouds.


Always stand as it were on guard, and mark the attacks and charges of Fortune long before she delivers them; she is only terrible to those whom she catches unawares; he who is always looking out for her assault easily sustains it.

Seneca, Consolation of Helvia

This is the two hundred and seventy ninth installment in a daily, yearlong, chapter-by-chapter reading devotional and meditation on Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. For more information on this project please read the introduction to the series here.

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For my friends and family, love. For my enemies, durian fruit.

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