“Got up late; we’re on friendly terms. The last squabble has left some small (imperceptible) traces — or perhaps time has. Every such squabble, however trivial, is a scar on love. A momentary feeling of passion, vexation, self-love or pride will pass, but a scar, however small, will remain forever on the best things that exist in the world — love. I shall know this and guard our happiness, and you know it too…” — Лев Николаевич Толстой, in a diary entry regarding his wife (source).
And the ever-famous, truly profound first line of his Anna Karenina: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
Really let that sink in. How beautiful. How tragic. Sense a connection?
I’m purposefully withholding my own analysis right now, because sometimes, such striking, enduring thoughts just have to stand on their own, left for each person’s own interpretation. Know thyself, as Socrates said. Ralph Waldo Emerson, too, echoed this sentiment: “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind,” he wrote in his essay “Self-Reliance.” Take a moment to reflect on those “imperceptible traces,” those lasting scars on love, those fiery feelings that accompany the very best and very worst things in your life. Record your thoughts in a diary, like Tolstoy. Write to yourself. See how you feel.
More on Anna Karenina and Tolstoy to come: I’m a part of a Russian Literature Humanities Independent Research Team (HIRT) at Pingry that’s examining them. It’s been a wonderful experience so far.
– Рая Тургенева / Rhea Kapur