Lightness or Heaviness?

In Prague, The Art of Travel Spring 2015, Books-2 by Katherine Carranza1 Comment

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera, explores the life philosophies of lightness and heaviness. The book opens up discussing Nietzsche’s philosophy of eternal return, or heaviness, versus Parmenide’s idea that life is light. Set in my very own city of Prague, Kundera wonders if we can even assign a meaning to our lives if we haven’t had the opportunity to explore other options in life; if we can only try one path and make one decision, we cannot compare this decision down the line because we cannot try the other option. He explores these ideas in a story told through the characters Tomas, Tereza, Sabina, and Franz.

I really enjoyed reading this book because I liked the philosophical premise that it is based on. I found that I identified with many characters, despite the fact that I originally thought my ideas on the topic were quite solid. Tereza is the main character that I immediately connected with. She represents the “heaviness” seen in life. Although Tereza may be seen as pure and innocent, she is also intelligent and compassionate and thus, she cannot be dismissed by other characters and is able to charm them. I see a lot of myself in Tereza. One of the main reasons is because I also have found that I am able to charm and become friends with many different people, despite the fact that our ideals may differ significantly. Tereza is able to become friends with Sabina, despite the fact that they live two very different life and that Tereza is extremely jealous and saddened by Sabina. I don’t know how much Tereza values friendship, but I think that their friendship demonstrates that Tereza holds it in high regard. I think many people would view Tereza as naive, but I don’t think that’s the case. Tereza is so compassionate that it overshadows her own ideals and lifestyle and makes it easy for her to connect with others. I don’t think this should be confused with naivety, instead I think it is something that few people are able to do and Tereza should be praised for it.

At the same time, I think I identify with Tomas as well, although the two characters are presented as two opposite ends of the spectrum. Tomas seeks to live life as light as possible and many of his decisions and ideas demonstrate this. For example, Tomas views sex and love as two separate entities and he continues to have affairs when he is married to Tereza. I also share Tomas’ desire to have a weightless life, which is something I have definitely realized since coming to Prague. My decision to come to Prague was not very well thought out and was really dependent on chance. It just so happened that I came here with a group of friends and that we have been able to live together and travel together so successfully, despite our different ideas and lifestyles. I have found less importance in “heavy” objects since I have been here and I can clearly see the need to be “weightless”.

Prague is truly one of the most beautiful cities I have been in. I have come to enjoy “lightness” much more since I have been here. I like to go out for walks by myself and just take in the beautiful city. I am not sure when it happened, but Prague feels like home instead of a foreign city. My friends and I like to make spontaneous decisions and have experiences here, as well as when we travel. I am trying to enjoy my time here as much as possible and I realized that these experiences are truly unique. I can’t even compare what my semester would have been like had I went to London instead, but I am so happy that I ended up in Prague.


  1. I love the realization you came to from this reading about how unique this experience of studying abroad is for you. Even more so, it is beautiful how you feel at home in Prague. I heard the city is absolutely amazing and I hope to go there or possibly study there one day.

    I hope you enjoy your last few weeks in your new home!


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