Unseen Passage: The Art of Living

The art of living is learnt easily by those who are positive and optimistic. From humble and simple people to great leaders in history, science or literature, we can learn a lot about the art of living, by having a peep into their lives. The daily routines of these great men not only reveal their different, maybe unique life styles, but also help us learn certain habits and practices they followed. Here are some; read, enjoy and follow in their footsteps as it suits you.

A private workplace always helps. Jane Austen asked that a certain squeaky hinge should never be oiled so that she always had a warning whenever someone was approaching the room where she wrote. William Faulkner, lacking a lock on his study door, detached the doorknob and brought it into the room with him. Mark Twain’s family knew better than to breach his study door—they would blow a horn to draw him out. Graham Greene went even further, renting a secret office; only his wife knew the address and the telephone number. After all, everyone of us needs a workplace where we can work on our creation uninterruptedly. Equally we need our private space too!

A daily walk has always been a source of inspiration. For many artists, a regular stroll was essentially a creative inspiration. Charles Dickens famously took three hour walks every afternoon, and what he observed on them fed directly into his writing. Tchaikovsky could make do with a two-hour jaunt but wouldn’t return a moment early; convinced that doing so would make him ill. Ludwig van Beethoven took lengthy strolls after lunch, carrying a pencil and paper with him in case inspiration struck. Nineteenth century composer Erik Satie did the same on his long hikes from Paris to the working-class suburb where he lived, stopping under street lamps to jot down ideas that came on his journey; it’s rumored that when those lamps were turned off during the war years, his music declined too. Many great people had limited social life too. One of Simone de Beauvoir’s close friends puts it this way. ‘There were no receptions, parties. It was an uncluttered kind of life, a simplicity deliberately constructed so that she could do her work’. To Pablo the idea of Sunday was an ‘at home day’.

The routines of these thinkers are difficult. Perhaps it is because they are so unattainable. The very idea that you can organize your time as you like is out of reach for most of us, so I’ll close with a toast to all those who worked with difficulties. Like Francine Prose, who began writing when the school bus picked up her children and stopped when it brought them back; or T.S. Eliot, who found it much easier to write once he had a day job in a bank than he had as a starving poet and even F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose early books were written in his strict schedule as a young military officer. Those days were not as interesting as the nights in Paris that came later, but they were much more productiveand no doubt easier on his liver. 5. Being forced to follow someone else’s routine may irritate, but it makes it easier to stay on the path. Whenever we break that trail ourselves or take an easy path of least resistance, perhaps what’s most important is that we keep walking.

Q. Based on your understanding of the above passage, answer any five of the questions given below by choosing the most appropriate option.

  1. The passage is about:
    1. how to practise walking.
    2. walking every day
    3. the life of a genius.
    4. what we can learn from the routines of geniuses.
  2. The writers in the past:
    1. followed a perfect daily routine.
    2. enjoyed the difficulties of life.
    3. can teach us a lot.
    4. wrote a lot in books.
  3. In their daily routines:
    1. they had unique life styles.
    2. they read books and enjoyed them.
    3. they did not get any privacy.
    4. they did not mind visitors.
  4. Some artists resorted to walking as it was:
    1. an exercise.
    2. a creative inspiration.
    3. essential for improving their health.
    4. helpful in interaction with others.
  5. To Pablo, the idea of Sunday was an:
    1. at home day.
    2. off day.
    3. at a mall day.
    4. at friend’s place day.
  6. When did F. Scott Fitzgerald write his early books?
    1. During his regular stroll.
    2. In his secret office.
    3. During his strict schedule.
    4. In his study room.


  1. what we can learn from the routines of geniuses.
  2. followed a perfect daily routine.
  3. they had unique lifestyles.
  4. a creative inspiration.
  5. at home day.
  6. During his strict schedule.

Q. Answer the following questions briefly:

  1. How can we learn the art of living?
  2. Who were the three authors who had private workspaces?
  3. How did the family of Mark Twain used to draw him out of his workplace?
  4. Which style did the famous composer Erik Satie follow?
  5. During which time Francine Prose used to write?
  6. Find words from the passage which mean the same as the following:
    1. noisy (para 2)
    2. not achievable (Para 4)


  1. We can learn the art of living by peeping into the lives of the great and optimistic leaders in history, science and literature.
  2. Jane Austen, William Faulkner, and Graham Greene used to work in their private workspaces.
  3. The family of Mark Twain used to blow a horn instead of knocking at the door to draw him out of his workplace.
  4. Erik Satie, on his long hikes from Paris to the working-class suburb where he lived, used to stop under street lamps to jot down ideas that came on his journey.
  5. Francine Prose used to write when the school bus picked up her children and stopped when it brought them back.
  6. Words are:
    1. squeaky
    2. unattainable

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