Can We Know What We Want, What To Want? (Day 240)

I finally got to this week’s Brainpickings newsletter, and per usual, I was blown away by the author’s ability to take material from several sources and organize it in a way that explains philosophical problems that we all face in ways that are accessible to mere mortals such as myself.

In this post, she addresses most people’s ambivalence regarding what we want from our lives, day to day and over the whole course of it. Tied up in this issue is the question of whether what we think we want is what we should want.

I want to share a quote (which was shared on Brainpickings – find article here) from the writer, Milan Kundera. It gave me pause and also comfort in my own often confused thoughts and feelings regarding who I am in the world and what pursuits will make me happy and fulfilled.

From Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

“We can never know what to 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.”




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