The Choice is All You Have

Day 316 of A Year of War and Peace

For the past few chapters we’ve been with Natasha as she lives with her grief. It’s been tough, her mental state deteriorating just as much as her physical state. Today, however, she turns a corner. She does so by abandoning self-centeredness and focusing her energies instead along a pro-social, other-orientation.

Consider that before Natasha fetishized the self. She focused on her suffering, her feelings. This kept her in a poor state of mind. Tolstoy writes today, however, that “Love awoke, and so did life.” This is not self-love. This is other-love. We see Natasha’s friendship with Princess Marya blossom. We see Natasha tend and care for her grieving mother.

This change of mind brings radical change. Tolstoy writes: “She did not know and would not have believed it, but beneath the layer of silt that covered her soul and seemed to her impenetrable, delicate young shoots of grass were already sprouting, which, taking root, would so cover with their living verdure the grief that weighed her down that it would no longer be seen or noticed. The wound had begun to heal from within.”

Though it seemed impossible while within the grips of grief the path of release was always within herself. The choice is all you have.


What have we then to do but […] to choose right, and pursue it steadily, and leave the issue to Providence?

Samuel Richardson, Clarissa

This is the three hundred and sixteenth 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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