Day 60 of A Year of War and Peace

thick mist of obscuring fog settles over the landscape today. The Russian troops march through it.

The fog is so dense, in fact, that no soldier can see more than ten paces off in either direction. Probably not the world’s best conditions for a battle, but the orders have been given. The attack is to be made.

As the soldiers march deeper into the fog, however, a vague sense of dislocation and the suspicion that a blunder has been made spreads and they halt. They remain in this confused and suspended state for some time. Bickering breaks out. Russians blame the holdup on the stupid German “sausage eaters.” Generals and officers riding by shout at one another over the mix up and confusion.

Then, when the army finally resumes forward marching, shots are fired. The Russians respond with fire of their own but the caliginous position prevents an orderly and focused response.

But high up in the village of Schlappanitz, where Napoleon stands with his generals, things are sunny and clear. He can survey all below him with great clarity and precision. Things are going just as he has planned. He waits for the right moment and then he orders his troops to attack.


It’s clear the fog stands as a metaphor for the muddled thinking we’ve encountered these past few chapters from our Russian friends. Their poor reasoning has lead them to a situation in which they are blind and ill-prepared.

Sometimes I feel as if my entire life has been lived in this same debilitating fog. Better to clear it out sooner rather than later.

A limit of time exists for you, which if you do not use for clearing away the clouds from your mind, it will go and you will go and it will never return.

Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations

This is the sixtieth 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.