Michel de Montaigne’s How We Weep and Laugh at the Same Thing

“Nature drives us that way, too: ‘Leave this world,’ she says, ‘just as you entered it. That same journey from death to life, which you once made without suffering or fear, make it again from life to death.’ Your death is a part of the order of the universe, it is a part of the life of the world.”

Michel de Montaigne’s moral clarity lies in being obligated to oneself; while foregoing that obligation only so far as our living takes us. So that, in the face of death, we are not stripping ourselves of this obligation, but rather carrying it forward just as absurdly as we were carried to our own births.

‘How We Weep and Laugh at the Same Thing’ refers to this ambivalence and absurdity of life. When we think we’re struggling against something, some force that exists outside of us, it’s only those moments that truly illuminate the actuality of what’s inside us that we are wrestling with.

Through that, all we live, we have lived twice over – in darkness and light. All we’ve built, we have built two ways – from beginning to end and from end to beginning. And all we are, we have already been before.

We live as we carry out this unraveling of life.

This vanity of words is, as Michel de Montaigne writes, an act of deception. But by recognizing our words and what they mean, we can turn abstract to matter, melancholy of life to that which compels us to live.

His essays are enlightening and inspirational.

Certain words he uses sink deep because they are not noise but music. A tune that, in anguish and illness, makes you acutely aware of your own obscurity and disappearing of self.

Perhaps it’s in such moments that Montaigne’s soliloquies reverberate through the dense despair.

Conquering through you, and not for you, the weight that was bound to crush you.

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