by Wenlan Chia
October 2nd, 2008
Every time I am asked what I would have been doing if I were not a designer, I think of my favorite book, Milan Kunderaâ€™s The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Told through a great love story, one of the many complicated ideas in this book is that what has happened once might have never happened at all. Thus, each life is insignificant and each decision does not matter. The decisions weâ€™ve made in our lifetime is unbearably light.
The pivoting point in life can be unimportant, as it does not exist. Among many complicated meanings behind this philosophy, I found it at least therapeutic- so I do not take everything too seriously, knowing I take everything very seriously.Â I also think of the book when I am trying to balance myself from thinking I really just have one chance in life when I actually have endless second chances.Â Everything that happens in life is so unique that it can never be reproduced again, yet there are endless possibilities as well. I have made quite a few detours in my career and I still keep my future open. I canâ€™t say this attitude owes itself to this book. I first read it in 1988 and have been reading it many times through the past 20 years.
Every time I answer the question of what I would have done if I were not a designer, my thoughts go from chief, movie maker, rancher, writer, architect, zoologist, or archeologist to even a paper maker or bartender, not that I know how to do any of these well. Quite simply, I do not see being a fashion designer as my last and only career, although I absolutely enjoy my work very much.
A book can have this kind of profound influence on a person because the book speaks for them. It echoes the very inside layer of what we want in life. It does not enlighten us as much as it wakens the deepest part in us that we werenâ€™t even aware existed before. This kind of book is a personâ€™s best friend, soul mate, and ghost.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being