The Eternal Lightness of Being

I recently finished Milan Kundera‘s book The Eternal Lightness of Being. This has been the first novel I’ve read in years, and I must say it doesn’t disappointment. Although I’m not a fan of authors breaking the fourth wall, it was relatively infrequent and not excessive. The stories (the book revolves around a few protagonists) were good, based largely on the theme of our being only able to live this life once, without possibility of living life again and learning from our mistakes. What I especially liked was how his philosophy on life and love seemed so close to mine (– don’t we often love things similar to ourselves?)

Without learning from mistakes, the author argues that we can do no wrong (and no right). In this way, our very existence is essentially meaningless. As much as we try to live the best life possible, we cannot foresee the consequences of our actions — some of these actions may thus lead to consequences we did not envision. In our next life — if we had a next life — one where we could live the same life all over again, we would thus take different actions, learning from our mistakes. But because we only have one life, our whole lives are more or less guesswork. What we do echoes not in eternity, but reverberates only in the heartbeat of our lives.

I remember my mom telling me a story about love once, and though I cannot remember its exact details, it goes something like this: you’re walking down a lane of grass, and are asked to pick the greenest one. The problem lies in that you can only walk down the lane only once, and are not allowed to turn back. So you keep walking, and walking, and every time you see a green blade of grass and bend to pick it up, you notice an even greener one further up ahead. Before long, you’ve run out of grass to walk, and end up with nothing. My lesson?:

  • You can’t turn back the hands of time
  • The grass is always greener on the other side
  • A bird in hand is worth two in the bush

No matter what happens, it’s a story of your life. Whether your life turns out arbitrarily good or bad, in the end, that’s the story of your life.

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