What Was I Thinking: Married/Divorced x 3

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A Thought I Thought Worth Thinking – Repost

thoughtbubbleThis is a re-post from April 2012.  When originally posted the readership was not what it is today and it is buried deep the blog.  Since this really gives you the essence of what drives me, I thought I’d put it up front again and invite comment.  I don’t agree with everything Russell wrote, but this, I embrace.  So, for your consideration:


I majored in Humanities as an undergraduate.  The program centered on interdisciplinary courses focused in literature, history and philosophy.  We discussed how these forces shaped and reflected the events of their time.  I drank it all up, lustfully devouring everything I read, trying to make sense of it all.

Of the many philosophers I read, Bertrand Russell stood out for many reasons.  He was outspoken.  He was principled.  He put his ideas in play, getting arrested in 1918 for his opposition to World War I as well as in 1961 for his anti-nuclear positions.  He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950 “in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought”.   A true Renaissance Man, he was also married 4 times.   Since I’ve only been married 3, I’m still good for one more.

Of all the works by Russell I’ve read over the years, it was the Prologue to his Autobiography that stuck with me.  It has shaped me and it has defined me.  It guides me and gives me direction.  When all is said and done, when those I leave behind measure my life, I hope they can say I lived my life with equal passions.

So here…the Prologue to Bertrand Russell’s Autobiography:

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a great ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.

I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy – ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness–that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what–at last–I have found.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.

This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.


10 comments on “A Thought I Thought Worth Thinking – Repost

  1. refinedrandomness
    July 28, 2013

    Oh lovely… I must get aqauinted with B Russel. I love his profound prologue !!

    • Chuck
      July 28, 2013

      He offers some different insights, that’s for sure. He was good friends with T.S. Eliot. The influences of each on the other are pretty strong despite Russell’s dismissal of such in his Autobiography. Eliot often read his poems aloud to Russell and Russell himself claims to have contributed much to Eliot’s “The Waste Land”.

  2. theworldlieswaiting
    July 28, 2013

    The three passions seems indeed like the essence of life but I also appreciate that he sees it a bit like going through stages. I have never read anything by him. Time to explore that bookshelf then! Thank you!

    • Chuck
      July 28, 2013

      I never really looked at it that way. I always interpreted it as the driving passions that guided his life and his life’s work. The struggles to understand that human condition and to reconcile his world. I always found it interesting that while he was best known for his work in philosophy and mathematics, he won the Noble Prize for Literature.

      • theworldlieswaiting
        July 28, 2013

        Well, philosophy and literature have always been closely connected. And I think if you look at Maslow’s pyramid of needs – you need to get the basics right before you start caring about the rest of the world. To me it seems you can’t understand human condition before you understand what drives you, right?

      • Chuck
        July 28, 2013

        Oh I think he was well into the Self Actualization stage at this point. LOL

      • theworldlieswaiting
        July 28, 2013

        He’d better be by then but he started off with looooove. 😉

      • Chuck
        July 28, 2013

        Well, he was married 4 times! LOL I’m at 3, so I have one more attempt to spare. 😀

      • theworldlieswaiting
        July 28, 2013

        It takes practice I guess. I have no idea about that department. The furtherest I ever got was to booking the wedding hall and choosing a dress only to realise I picked the wrong man. 🙂

      • Chuck
        July 28, 2013


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This entry was posted on July 28, 2013 by in Happiness, Life, Philosophy and tagged , , , , , .
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