“kris44118″at Book of Marvels wrote the following in her blog post:
Years ago, I read Milan Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being and was haunted by ideas that sprang from this passage, “We can never know what we want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come…We live everything as if comes, without warning, like an actor going on cold.”
I found this quote incredibly fascinating, especially having read (and loved) Kundera’s novel–where was the line? I missed it, and yet here it was again, facing me at a critical point in my life: a rich, delicious quote.
So many times, I have been told (or I tell myself), “You only live once,” as a cue to more whimsical, spontaneous activity or to the pursuit of an intimidating dream. But here, in the line, “Living only one life” that says we live in a sort of ignorance, is another dimension to the puzzle of life. We live only one life, on our own trajectory, with no basis for comparison, never knowing really what COULD be or what it REALLY feels like to be someone else.
I like it.
I like that we have our own destinies and that we ought to accept things as they come (as well as make the most of them). It helps me to think this way, at least at this point in time. Though it’s a somewhat lonely thought, it gives me great comfort to know that we really do only live one life.
It also comfort me to think that we are improvising each and everyday. It makes my mistakes more forgivable–after all, I was not prepared, we were not prepared!
In a sense, we are both powerless and capable.
I sit here, in London, making the most of my life, at least as much as I can manage, and as I can improvise.
Perhaps it is this improvisation that makes writing so challenging–a writer must carry this element (of living only one life) into her story, and into the characters. Though the writer creates the story, she must surrender to the lives of the characters who live in a place of improvisation and ignorance. The characters live everything as if comes, without warning, like an actor going on cold.
And that–that is brave.