One of my favorite books of all time is 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being' by Milan Kundera. I was introduced to this book in my undergraduate studies, and it struck a note that resonated greatly within me. Kundera spins a web between 3-5 main characters during the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia around 1968. While it is a really deep book that follows a few story lines and is a great read, one of the themes of the book is how the characters approach their lives. Kundera ponders two different extremes, the lightness of being, and the weight of being. A quote from the book that explains somewhat the disparities between the two is as follows:
"The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?"
In this statement, Kundera proposes that there are two ways of being, two ways of living. The weight is truly feeling, knowing the burdens of life, the truths of life. The lightness is dismissing or not even truly recognizing the burdens or truths, and dancing above it all, choosing to live freely of the heaviness of life. It was the quote above that really helped me to understand who I am, and how I interact with my world every moment in which I am here.
In every aspect of my life, I am the weight of being. I fully feel the burden and recognize the truth in my surroundings. I have always been one to carry that weight in the back of my mind, knowing it is there. And that truth of my being hasn't escaped the way I interact with my world since having a child. In every day that passes, in every milestone my child hits, in every piece of his little being that looks more and more like a child and less like a baby every day, I feel the weight.
Please, please don't misunderstand me. I am so very lucky to have my child. I am aware of the fact that having a child is the ultimate gift. And having a healthy child who does hit every milestone is something that is not guaranteed to any parent. But I feel the weight. Every time he does something new and amazing, while a part of me is overjoyed and overfilling with pride for him, part of me in the back of my head recognizes that means he is one step closer to being a child, an adolescent, an adult. I fully recognize that my child is only one year old, and these thoughts may seem silly, but in my head and in my heart, I know the burden and the truth, that we only get so little time on this earth and each moment is precious. Every time he does something brand new that knocks me over with pride, I am so surprised that I am equally as struck by the new overwhelming love for this creature that now walks, that now talks, the heart I already thought was bursting at the seams just grows larger. But in the back of my head, that little voice, the weight of my being, does mourn the end of the sweet baby cuddled in my arms, the end of the coos to tell me what he needed, the inchworm crawling across the floor as fast as his little arms would drag him to get up into my lap, the little nursling bleeting to be fed, the tiny head nuzzled into my chest.
Tonight I am feeling that weight.