Do I appreciate it? It shows talent and control. I can't explain why I have never seen this painting before but it brought a lump to my throat. Lots of detail. I don't find myself inspired by it. I don't like it. Once again, we invited participants to comment on the painting. Here are the most common themes that came out of their feedback, accompanied with representative comments. It's quite inoffensive, but I can't find much sense of purpose in it.
This is just one of the views from a lovely garden in Giverny, France. While many participants were satisfied with the information that had been provided for each painting, the vast majority were hungry for more colour and context , especially:. Will the National Gallery be looking at the comments with a view to how they curate a show?
With his greatest works behind him, he found his sense of purpose dwindling as his celebrity and public acclaim billowed, sinking into a state of deep depression and melancholia despite having a large estate, good health for his age, a wife who had born him fourteen children, and the promise of eternal literary fame.
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He likens the progression of his depression to a serious physical illness — a parallel modern science is rendering increasingly appropriate. Tolstoy writes:. Then occurred what happens to everyone sickening with a mortal internal disease. At first trivial signs of indisposition appear to which the sick man pays no attention; then these signs reappear more and more often and merge into one uninterrupted period of suffering.
The suffering increases, and before the sick man can look round, what he took for a mere indisposition has already become more important to him than anything else in the world — it is death! The classic symptoms of anhedonia engulfed him — he lost passion for his work and came to dismiss as meaningless the eternal fame he had once dreamt of. He even ceased to go out shooting with his gun in fear that he might be too tempted to take his own life. Today or tomorrow sickness and death will come they had come already to those I love or to me; nothing will remain but stench and worms.
Sooner or later my affairs, whatever they may be, will be forgotten, and I shall not exist. Then why go on making any effort? How can man fail to see this? And how go on living? That is what is surprising! One can only live while one is intoxicated with life; as soon as one is sober it is impossible not to see that it is all a mere fraud and a stupid fraud! That is precisely what it is: there is nothing either amusing or witty about it, it is simply cruel and stupid.
Had I simply understood that life had no meaning I could have borne it quietly, knowing that that was my lot. But I could not satisfy myself with that. Had I been like a man living in a wood from which he knows there is no exit, I could have lived; but I was like one lost in a wood who, horrified at having lost his way, rushes about wishing to find the road.
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He knows that each step he takes confuses him more and more, but still he cannot help rushing about. It was indeed terrible. And to rid myself of the terror I wished to kill myself. And yet he recognized that the inquiry at the heart of his spiritual malady was neither unique nor complicated:.
My question … was the simplest of questions, lying in the soul of every man from the foolish child to the wisest elder: it was a question without an answer to which one cannot live, as I had found by experience. What will come of my whole life? Seeking to answer this seemingly simple yet paralyzingly profound question, Tolstoy first turned to science, but found that rather than recognizing and answering the question, science circumvented it and instead asked its own questions, then answered those. Most of all, he found it incapable of illuminating the infinite and instead reducing its questions and answers to finite.
He writes:. These are all words with no meaning, for in the infinite there is neither complex nor simple, neither forward nor backward, nor better or worse. A century and a half before Alan Lightman tussled, elegantly, with the same paradox , Tolstoy captured the Catch of the predicament:. The problem of experimental science is the sequence of cause and effect in material phenomena.
4 Ways to Find Passion and Purpose in Your Life
It is only necessary for experimental science to introduce the question of a final cause for it to become nonsensical. The problem of abstract science is the recognition of the primordial essence of life. It is only necessary to introduce the investigation of consequential phenomena such as social and historical phenomena and it also becomes nonsensical. Experimental science only then gives positive knowledge and displays the greatness of the human mind when it does not introduce into its investigations the question of an ultimate cause.
And, on the contrary, abstract science is only then science and displays the greatness of the human mind when it puts quite aside questions relating to the consequential causes of phenomena and regards man solely in relation to an ultimate cause. Philosophy not merely does not reply, but is itself only asking that question.
And if it is real philosophy all its labour lies merely in trying to put that question clearly. Just here.
Get lost to find your ikigai
We are. Life is beyond reason. And, indeed, Tolstoy turns to spirituality in one final and desperate attempt at an answer — first by surveying how those in his social circle lived with this all-consuming inquiry. He found among them four strategies for managing the existential despair, but none that resolved it:.
I found that for people of my circle there were four ways out of the terrible position in which we are all placed. The first was that of ignorance. All the while, your inbox keeps getting bigger. We work more, play less and neglect the very reason we strive for success in the first place: to experience joy in life.
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It disrupts balance, saps creativity and energy, and impedes the pursuit of personal passions. It affects productivity, morale and even how we interact with each other—all the while robbing us of time and happiness.
It eclipses the joy of working with a sense of obligation, self-sacrifice and a lack of control. As the VP of product management at a digital media delivery provider, the long hours I clocked felt pointless. Convincing more people to watch TV on their smartphones contradicted my fundamental beliefs about the importance of face-to-face human connections. The environment was toxic, yet I was fighting for the job security to support my lifestyle, which I loved. Over time, my frustration grew. My attitude caught up with me and I was laid off. The layoff forced me to develop a new perspective.
I was a blank slate. A career coach helped me focus on what my innate gifts are, what I do well and what I love doing. You have to confront your fears to find your purpose —because without purpose, we leave ourselves susceptible to the anxiety-driven, going-nowhere-fast career. Find your passion with these four steps:.
Ask questions instead of creating conclusions. Questions lead to growth and expansion; conclusions lead to dead ends.