Saturday, March 8, 2014


        “All of man’s problems come from his inability
        to sit quietly in a room alone.”
                                                       —Blaise Pascal

I have the ability—even the habitual desire—“to sit quietly in a room alone,” as I am doing just now, and regularly do so every morning for an hour or more, either musing or writing, poems most often.

Does that then mean I have no problems?  Not objectively speaking, if “problems” means difficult situations to address and resolve through thought, reflection and consequent action.  However, Pascal may be implying that such a reflective problem-solving process works to forefend problems.  In that case, I agree.

Or does Pascal mean that our problems are generated by our frenetic disposition that acts without thinking reflectively, but acts impulsively, inconsiderately (which literally means “not sitting with”)?  That seems right to me—as in the paradoxical saying, “Don’t just do something; sit there.”

Thus I find that the sense of Pascal’s sweeping diagnosis is sound: careful consideration prevents and resolves problems. 

Yet sitting with others may work even better.