My mother introduced me to Alain de Botton some fifteen years ago with the wonderful book, the Consolations of Philosophy
. She wasn’t in the habit of sending me things to read; that has been more my Dad’s thing. I was surprised she’d thought to give it to me, and tucked into it with great curiosity.
The book ignited a spark in my consciousness and turned me into an immediate fan of his work. I’ve gone on to read several other titles (Status Anxiety, The Course of Love, How To Think More About Sex, How Proust Can Change Your Life). Each one elevating my thinking and helping me climb the ladder of self-awareness (I have many more rungs to go).
Alain De Botton is a writer, public intellectual and modern philosopher. I’ve found his clear-eyed, compassionate reasoning indispensable for sorting through my own humanity.
The highest praise of his work I can offer is that De Botton shows us how to continue parenting ourselves (adulthood being a moving target).
The business of knowing oneself is never done.
On finding the ‘right’ partner:
How Romanticism Ruined Love:
The true value of friendship:
And, by comparison, in friendship, the supposedly worthless and inferior state whose mention should crush us at the end of a date, we bring our highest and noblest virtues. Here we are patient, encouraging, tolerant, funny and – most of all – kind. We expect a little less and therefore, by extension, forgive an infinite amount more. We do not presume that we will be fully understood, and so treat failings lightly and humanely. We don’t imagine that our friends should admire us without reserve and stick by us whatever we do, and so we put in effort and behave, pleasing ourselves as well as our companions along the way. We are, in the company of our friends, our best selves.
Love means, above anything else, benevolence and gentleness towards what is failed, disgraced, broken, unappealing, angry and foul in other people and in ourselves. Love isn’t about an admiration for strength, it’s about directing sympathy in a most unexpected direction: at what is messed up, lost and in pieces, and at what we might hate, resent and be frightened of. Anyone can express an interest in perfection, to love is to devote an active charity towards the mistakes and aberrations. One day, we will all require the charity of others. In one way or another, we’ll be on our knees – and we will need people to look past our evident failings in a tender search for our deeply hidden merits.
You Will Marry The Wrong Person:
These are but a few samples of De Botton’s invaluable work. I encourage you to explore, and hope they bring you the same clarity.