One of my closest friends died more than 400 years ago.

If you have read the essays of Michel de Montaigne, you will understand. If you have not, I recommend them as I do few writings. They are timeless, candid, and honest. They cover everything, from reflections on impotence (and its supposed cures), to friendship, to the education of children, to the importance of contemplating one’s death while living life. They are snippets of insight about a man, and therefore about mankind, and there are lots of them (800+ pages in the best translation).

More than anything else, they consist of thoughts, confessions, and observations one would receive from an intimate friend. I read them the first time more than 25 years ago, and I return to them often, always with a smile.