The Unbearable Being of Lightness

Many, many moons ago, while living in Budapest and just entering the decade of my 20s, I read Milan Kundera's "Unbearable Lightness of Being" and some years later saw the 1988 film with Daniel Day Lewis. I honestly do not recall much of the novel if I'm going to be perfectly honest and I read it because it was one of those novels you should have read if you wanted to fake being a pseudo intellectual living in Eastern Europe slinking around dimly lit cafes. Which I totally was, obviously.

I shall turn again back to this novel and perhaps glean more something from it other than the general feeling of "Wow, this guy freakin sucks."

The title has always stuck with me though. It lolls around my tongue so easily, "The unbearable lightness of being" because I love, just love the sad decadency of this phrase. Or at least my perceived sadness behind the title. The. Unbearable. Lightness. Of. Being.

Lightness of Being. So unbearable. Something about this title always felt poetic and romantic to me.

Now I am older, it's almost 20 years since I have read the book. I am the same person in some ways, but in quite so many ways, a very different person. 

 As someone who is a Cancer Sun and a Cancer Rising, I have always been "light." Effervescent if you will. I have been told that my presence brings levity to a room. My presence is welcomed. I have been told people like being around me because they feel happier because I am so happy. My natural state of being is to be happy and light. I make friends easily because I shine a light on others. I'm like that one candle you light to light all the others and I have been told, and I do believe it, that this is a GOOD thing. (YOU get a light! And YOU get a light! And YOU too!) Such an admirable thing. Oh to be so light! How lucky! How fortunate!

But one cannot be light always. And one cannot remain light for everyone all the time. I have been giving and being light for so long, I have not even realized I am well beyond burning the candle on both ends. Beyond the little pile of ash and soot. As of late I feel that light extinguish inside me and as the light dims I see the shadows form along the walls. I see their wobbly shapes, how they flutter and slither, they're nebulous, shifting and changing. An odd dance in the flickering glow of my lightness that is fading. And I watch them move in their hypnotic dance and nod in agreement that it's time to live with the shadows. 

Darkness is not the opposite of goodness. To live in one's darkness does not mean you are now void of goodness. Darkness is not the opposite of light. To me the opposite of light is to cease from existence. Darkness is just another form of light. It's allowing yourself to live with your shadows. To acquaint yourself with the parts of you that you may not be so comfortable with, or proud of. But these shadows are still a part of you and deserve to be acknowledged and sat with. It's the freedom and permission you give yourself to put down the light filled chalice and it is perfectly ok to admit it is heavy and you are weary. 

No one tells you how heavy and burdensome it is to exist in lightness all the time. To be constantly "on" has made me so weary. The real struggle for me dear friends is I seem to lack the ability to dim the lights. I can either turn them on, or turn them off. There seems to be no dimmer switch in my chemical makeup. I am either burning or burned out.

The key thing is I am aware and have taken notice. I am intent on acquiring this very practical device, this inner dimmer switch! (Yay, therapy!) I'm sharing all this because it is helpful for me. To feel like it is OUT THERE. It's not a scream or cry, just a whisper. I am asking myself how can I navigate this new year with a way of protecting my light and not giving so much of it away to the point of such exhaustion that I find myself sobbing uncontrollably like a very tired toddler while cutting zucchini on a Friday night (true story). How can I embrace my shadow self and hold her and let her know she's loved too? How do I wear my sadness on my sleeves like my carefree heart and not feel like I am burdening others or disappointing them because I am not my "usual being of lightness"? Is it possible? Is it possible to allow the darkness be at the forefront so the light can recover? 

2 commentaires

  • Candice le

    My dear friend, I think your shadows are where your depth is found, which is another part of you that reaches and welcomes hearts as beautifully as your light. I’ve reread your words “darkness is not the opposite of goodness. darkness is not the opposite of light” many times over and I find comfort in them and know that I will sit with them in my mind over time. In my photography I have always been drawn to the darker shadows which give way to the most enchanting light—for all the mysteries within. And I have always thought you an enchanting creature, a mystery of your kind. I’ll not ramble on as I am apt to do. Hopefully we may sit sometime soon over tea. Sending you love and thanking you for sharing your heart and thoughts.

  • Rebecca Skye Watson le

    Dear Rodelle,
    I’ve been following your posts with quiet admiration for some time now, but have to open my mouth today. You beautiful, brave woman! Thank you for your honesty, for baring your vulnerability. And you do it so eloquently, with words that go straight to the heart. Sending you so much love, trusting that the dimmer switch will be found, the balance struck, the light beginning to shift from unbearable to one that surrounds, carries, provides rest and hope. x

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