The Illusion of Originality

“I have gathered a posy of other men’s flowers, and nothing but the thread that binds them is mine own.” – Montaigne

Scrolling through Instagram, you might find yourself pausing at pictures of guys scaling mountains, coding the next big app, crafting artisan furniture, or looking sharp in a tailored suit. A knot tightens in your gut, and you wonder, “What’s left for me? They’ve got it all figured out.”

Enter Montaigne, a 16th-century philosopher who offers timeless insights into human nature. Reading his work feels like a conversation with a wiser version of yourself—someone grappling with the same questions and doubts you have.

The Art of Curation

Montaigne dispels the illusion of originality. He suggests that the real game isn’t about inventing new ideas but assembling existing ones. Life is a marketplace of ideas, and every day you collect fragments—a quote from a book, a snippet from a podcast, or a lesson from a personal failure. These fragments are your “flowers.”

But owning a basket of flowers isn’t the endgame. Most people collect these as if they’re collecting identities. The real magic lies in how you tie these flowers together. That’s your thread—your unique perspective and experience. It’s not about creation; it’s about curation.

“We take other men’s knowledge and opinions upon trust; which is an idle and superficial learning. We must make them our own. What good does it do us to consume without internalizing, without making it a part of who we are?” — Montaigne

The Pitfall of Consumption

We live in a world obsessed with consumption, thinking that the more we consume, the more ‘well-rounded’ we become. But all we end up with is mental clutter, not wisdom. The real challenge is to take action—to sift through the noise, find what matters, and mold it into something tangible, whether it’s a blog post, a startup, or a piece of art.

Behind every Instagram highlight reel is a backstory filled with grind, setbacks, and lessons learned. So, the next time you question your unique blend of interests and experiences, remember: you’ve got your thread and your basket of flowers. What’s stopping you from weaving your own tapestry?

I dig books, crave adventure, enjoy a strong cup of coffee, and oscillate between Mozart and Foals on my playlist. This unique blend informs everything I create. And that’s the point—to start creating from where you are, using what you have, in hopes of stumbling upon something original.

“Life should be an aim unto itself, a purpose unto itself.” – Montaigne

Start Having Fun

It’s easy to get frustrated when you believe nothing you do is original. But consider the flip side: if nothing is truly original, then you’re free to mix and match existing ideas like ingredients in a recipe. Go ahead, bake some terrible cakes until you master the art of cake-making. Borrow recipes, improve upon them, destroy them, but most importantly, enjoy the process.

“I have gathered a posy of other men’s flowers, and nothing but the thread that binds them is mine own.” – Montaigne

Reading Montaigne hits close to home. It’s like the guy crawled inside my head and put words to what I’m thinking. If you’re struggling to find some damn meaning in this world, you’ll probably see a bit of yourself in his writings too.

Look, we’re told that being original is the end-all-be-all. But let’s get real: scrolling through social media, it’s easy to think you’ve missed the boat. That everything worth doing is already being done, and better, by someone else.

But Montaigne calls bullshit on that. Life’s a garden. Each flower’s an idea, a piece of wisdom, or an experience you’ve lived. The magic? It’s not in the flowers; it’s in how you tie them together.

For me, it’s simple: I dig books, crave adventure, love a strong cup of joe, and my playlist jumps from Mozart to Metallica. That mix makes what I create unique. Whether it’s this blog, a video, or just shooting the shit over coffee, it’s all got my fingerprint on it.

So, how do you find your unique mix? Do something. Stop overthinking it. Write that article. Record that video. Make that art. Through action, you’ll carve out your space.

Don’t get psyched out by the highlight reels on Instagram. Everyone you look up to spent years grinding, failing, and wrestling with the same doubts you’re facing. They pushed through because they realized that their unique blend of interests had value. Yours does too.

So if you’re hovering at a fork in the road, here’s your sign: you’re still a work in progress. You’re holding your thread. Time to start weaving.

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