About ten years ago, I read a book that I think about more than any other I’ve read.

lightnessIt was The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera–a popular book to read in your college years.

Oddly enough, I’ve only read it once. It’s not the kind of book you can simply breeze through. (Also–there is a movie made from the book; I have not seen it and have no idea if it’s good.)

Now, a more-knowledgable person on Kundera and his works could write a more intelligent analysis, but this is why this book speaks to me:

A heavy life is one with responsibilities and serious, important things that weigh us down. These weights make us feel suffocated and we yearn to be free of them.

A light life is free of commitments and is carefree and fun, like floating in the air. At first, this sounds lovely. But to float through life without any weight–anything meaningful weighing us down–is unbearable. We reach out for something to cling to, to weigh us down and bring us back to earth where we can feel grounded. Purposeful.

There is no solution: when we feel weighed down, we yearn to be free. When we are light, we yearn for meaning and weight to give us purpose.

I think this is how I live my life. I hated worked in an office, so I quit and wanted to make a living working for myself. I was free of the weight of being in an office, having a boss, sitting in an awful cubicle–all those things that made me feel stifled and controlled.

Now I am lighter, but I have flashes of fear–I’m not being productive enough. What the hell am I doing every day? What is the goal I am reaching for? What’s the point? The lightness is unbearable and terrifying, like floating through space; I simultaneously crave weight and fear it.

Why can’t I just be content! (There’s no question mark there, because it’s a rhetorical question.)

Have you read this book? How did it make you feel? Which books have affected you deeply?

photo credit: Scottmga via photopin cc