157: Very Little Things


Generally, I’m not much in favor of aphorisms, even if they are Ruskin’s, because, however wonderful they are, they are invariably decontextualized and, in that guise, obscure or overlook entirely a more important message. But this morning’s reading brought me one that was intended to stand alone because it was written as a one-sentence foootnote. Taken by it, I thought it would might be useful to share.

In Fors letter 34 (see previous post), Ruskin is telling the story of Hensli, a simple, but masterful, broom-maker who lives between the wonderful Swiss lakes and mountains. He has little money (brooms, even good ones, never bringing much), but what he has he has earned by his own dedicated labor. Over time, he has found that that amount is sufficient, and so he creates his life using that limitation as his lot. Then comes Ruskin’s footnote:

Utmost wisdom is not in self-denial, but in learning to find extreme pleasure in very little things.

Until next time, be well out there!



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2 Responses to 157: Very Little Things

  1. Shehla Anjum says:

    Almost as good as his other much-quoted aphorism about wealth and life. Thank you for this little gem, it can definitely stand alone.

  2. Monson, Renee says:

    “Utmost wisdom is not in self-denial, but in learning to find extreme pleasure in very little things.” Like Miss Charlotte Hegyi taking great pleasure in observing a sunflower grow in a neighbor’s patio/balcony pot! I remember her telling the tale a few years ago at your dining table!



    Renee Monson, Ph.D.
    Professor of Sociology

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