A Tale of Two
Those eminent late twentieth-century philosophers Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar once admonished us to “party on.” And, in what may very well be one of the intellectual antecedents to this injunction, today Tolstoy has his characters doing just that: partying.
You have to hand it to old Count Rostov. The old man knows how to throw a party. He’s got the food. He’s got the booze. He’s got the right people. Anyone who is anyone is at the English Club today to celebrate and honor Prince Bagration. But not everyone is having such a great time. Pierre, for instance, looks sad and dull. Which, I suppose, is understandable. Rumors abound of his wife cheating on him with the young officer Dolokhov. That must hurt. And, to make matters worse, Dolokhov just happens to be placed at table right across from Pierre at dinner. Ouch.
Contrast Pierre with Nikolai Rostov. The man is a party machine, loving every minute of this shindig. In fact, when it’s time to toast Bagration and the Emperor it’s Nikolai’s voice that rings out the loudest. It’s also Nikolai who gets the champagne glass smashing going. The dude is happy. He’s among friends and family, safe from the war, and absolutely living it up.
Both Nikolai and Pierre have their problems to work on. We all do. We shouldn’t, however, let these problems corrupt our social life because our social nature is an important part of who we are. So the next time you’re out in public and feeling down try to be more like Rostov and less like Pierre.
But if you fall in with a crowd, call it the games, a grand assembly, a festival. Endeavour to share in the festival with the rest of the world. For what sight is more pleasant to a lover of mankind than a great number of men?
Epictetus, The Discourses