In thinking about second chances, the theme for this week’s Sunday Scribblings, I’ve come to the realization that I’m still making my way in life through my first chances. I see all those first chances as necessarily leading me to my next first chance, and so on. Is there a point at which you feel like you’ve exhausted your first chances, and must start using your second chances to live life? If there is, I’m not there yet — life so far has felt like a series of first chances. Or is it only a matter of definition? Am I choosing to define all of life’s choices as first chances because everything thus far in life has led me to the point I’m at now?
At the moment, I happen to be reading Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being. One of the first passages in the book has the main character, Tomas, facing a decision.
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… …There is no means of testing which decision is better, because there is no basis for comparison. We live everything as it comes, without warning, like an actor going on cold. And what can life be worth if the first rehearsal for life is life itself? That is why life is always like a sketch. No, “sketch” is not quite the word, because a sketch is an outline of something, the groundwork for a picture, whereas the sketch that is our life is a sketch for nothing, an outline with no picture. Einmal is keinmal, says Tomas to himself. What happens but once, says the German adage, might as well not have happened at all. If we have only one life to live, we might as well not have lived at all.
I’m only half way through and am still processing the full weight (or lightness!) of the book. The idea of a second chance does not exist, which quite fits my realization that I’ve been running along the last 30 years on first chances. But so far I feel decidedly more optimistic about that prospect than what I’m beginning to understand from Kundera’s novel.
For those who have read the book and have their own thoughts on this topic, please share! And for those wishing to read more about second chances, click here.