I’m listening to “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles. Here are some excellent excerpts from the book – – – >

what matters in life is not whether we receive a round of applause; what matters is whether we have the courage to venture forth despite the uncertainty of acclaim.

Alexander Rostov was neither scientist nor sage; but at the age of sixty-four he was wise enough to know that life does not proceed by leaps and bounds. It unfolds. At any given moment, it is the manifestation of a thousand transitions. Our faculties wax and wane, our experiences accumulate and our opinions evolve–if not glacially, then at least gradually. Such that the events of an average day are as likely to transform who we are as a pinch of pepper is to transform a stew.

For his part, the Count had opted for the life of the purposefully unrushed. Not only was he disinclined to race toward some appointed hour – disdaining even to wear a watch – he took the greatest satisfaction when assuring a friend that a worldly matter could wait in favor of a leisurely lunch or stroll along the embankment. After all, did not wine improve with age? Was it not the passage of years that gave a piece of furniture its delightful patina? When all was said and done, the endeavors that most modern men saw as urgent (such as appointments with bankers and the catching of trains), probably could have waited, while those they deemed frivolous (such as cups of tea and friendly chats) had deserved their immediate attention.

Knowing beauty, influence, fame, and privilege to be borrowed rather than bestowed, they are not easily impressed. They are not quick to envy or take offense. They certainly do not scour the papers in search of their own names. They remain committed to living among their peers, but they greet adulation with caution, ambition with sympathy, and condescension with an inward smile.

If you are ever in doubt, just remember that unlike adults, children want to be happy. So they still have the ability to take the greatest pleasure in the simplest things.”

By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration, but our reconsideration—and our unwavering determination to withhold our opinion until we have engaged with them in every possible setting at every possible hour.

the wise man celebrates what he can.

coffee can energize the industrious at dawn, calm the reflective at noon, or raise the spirits of the beleagured in the middle of the night.

In the end, a parent’s responsibility could not be more simple: To bring a child safely into adulthood so that she could have a chance to experience a life of purpose and, God willing, contentment.

But in the Count’s considered opinion – the passion for dueling stemmed from nothing more than man’s passion for personal glory. Duels were not fought behind ash heaps or in scrapyards, OF COURSE NOT! They were fought in a clearing among the birch trees with a dusting of snow, or on the banks of a winding rivulet. That is, they were fought in settings that one might have expected to see in the second act of an opera. Whatever the endeavor – If the setting is glorious & the tenor grandiose, it WILL HAVE its adherence. While dueling may have BEGUN as a response to high crime (e.g. treason, adultery), by 1900 it had tiptoed down the stairs of reason until duels were being fought over the tilt of a hat, or the duration of a glance, or the placement of a comma. In the old and well established code of dueling, it is understood that the number of paces the offender and offended take before shooting should be in inverse proportion to the magnitude of the insult. That is, the most reprehensible affront should be resolved by a duel of the fewest paces (to ensure that one of the two men will not leave the field of honor alive). Well – if that was the case – then in the new era, the duels should be fought at no less than 10,000 paces. In fact, having thrown down the gauntlet, appointed seconds, and chosen weapons, the offended should board a steamer bound for America, as the offender boards another steamer for Japan – where – upon arrival the two men could don their finest coats, turn, and fire.