Why inquire after the doings at Constantinople,
When I might cultivate contentment in my own garden?
The paraphrase at the head of the page comes from Voltaire’s Candide, an eighteenth-century philosophical novel that nevertheless remains highly relevant today. The ‘hero’ of the novel, Candide, goes through incredible adventure after incredible adventure, seeking, as it were, after the doings at Constantinople, only to discover right at the end (after being shot, flayed, drowned, burned alive, and enduring shipwrecks and earthquakes, as well numerous bloody battles) that the only thing in life that truly matters is to cultivate your own garden. Seek contentment within yourself (using the metaphor of working in your own garden and ignoring the high life and clamorous glamour of Constantinople just down the road), and not to chase around trying to find ‘the meaning of life’. Trying to save the world is reckless and egotistical and accomplishes nothing save disaster. Save yourself instead by cultivating contentment with who or what you are. You’ll find this idea permeating Crusader as well.
©1999 Sara Douglass
Editors note: the above was an excerpt from Sara’s news page that she entitled The Garden Page from her website circa 1999. The image was from the bog garden at Nonsuch in Tasmania, circa 2007.