How Do We Know What We Want? Milan Kundera on the Ambivalences of Life and Love

“Live as if you were living already for the second time,” Viktor Frankl wrote in his 1946 masterwork on the human search for meaning, “and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”

And yet we only live once, with no rehearsal or reprise — a fact at once so oppressive and so full of possibility that it renders us, in the sublime words of Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska, “ill-prepared for the privilege of living.”

All the while, we walk forward accompanied by the specters of versions of ourselves we failed to or chose not to become.

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