This is one of those chapters that, on first glance, doesn’t seem to be that important but actually, under closer inspection, it does yield some profound insights into good living.
Consider the scene: Here we have the major generals of the Russian army gathered together to discuss the disaster of the Battle of Borodino. Where are they gathered? In a hut. A very simple hut. So casual and simple is the hut, in fact, that a six-year-old girl is perched on the oven watching it all. Contrast this scene with Napoleon’s relatively extravagant headquarters are Borodino.
Napoleon needs grand adornments. Kutuzov settles for a simple hut. While it’s true that Napoleon wins the day at Borodino all the adornments in the world cannot save him from his eventual defeat. Simple beats complicated.
The same can be said for everyday living. Whether it be clothing, accessories or talk more often than not a simple approach is the best approach.
Philosophy calls for plain living, but not for penance; and we may perfectly well be plain and neat at the same time.
Seneca, Letter V