The Unbearable Lightness of Business

unbearable lightness of beingThe Unbearable Lightness of Being opens with a philosophical discussion of lightness versus heaviness. Kundera contrasts Nietzsche’s philosophy of eternal return, or of heaviness, with Parmenides’s understanding of life as light. Kundera wonders if any meaning or weight can be attributed to life, since there is no eternal return: if man only has the opportunity to try one path, to make one decision, he cannot return to take a different path, and then compare the two lives. Without the ability to compare lives, Kundera argues, we cannot find meaning; where meaning should exist we find only an unbearable weightlessness. – summary of The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Starting a business has changed my life.

It has opened the door to a new kind of happiness that I didn’t realize existed, yet I often worry it’s too good to be true. I feel so much purpose, so much euphoria from putting my all into my company – but would it have been possible if I hadn’t of experienced 25 years of feeling utterly out of place beforehand?

Vegas is hotter when you’ve experienced snow

Everyone says Vegas it “hot” but when you’ve spent a majority of your formative years there, you tend to lose touch with what “hot” really is. Is 90 degrees hot? Is 110? I could pretty much walk around at any time during the summer in my hometown and feel fine – I mean it was warm – but I didn’t get what everyone was bitching about.

Then I moved to Reno for school and experienced my first winter with snow actually accumulating on the ground. It was COLD. I hadn’t realized what “hot” was or what “cold” until that point… when I went back to Vegas the following summer I was drenched in sweat & bitching up a storm.

I had no perspective on temperature because I grew up in a place where every season was just another shade of freaking-hot. This random anecdote serves as an explanation for another random anecdote…

Is happiness happier when you’ve gotten used to being blue?

One of my first evenings out in San Francisco (I was 1/2 way through my course at the Founder Institute and actively looking for a place to live in the city) had a profound impact on my life.

I had randomly met an entrepreneur through an investor of theirs who I had randomly met at a party. I went to dinner with this entrepreneur and a bunch of his entrepreneurial-type friends. It was the first time in 25 years I had spent 3 hours with a group of strangers and honest-to-God felt understood, engaged & alas… happy.

I sat at dinner looking around at the group of strangers who were all laughing and talking about things that I actually found fascinating and for a moment felt like the luckiest girl in the world – I was actually stimulated by these people & their conversation. I wasn’t bored, playing along or dreaming of a different life – for once, I was content right where I was at that perfect place, at that perfect time in the Universe.

After I left I “came down” and assumed that this was a one time thing. People weren’t made to be this happy, it couldn’t be maintained – could it?

Happiness v. Unhappiness

I’ve found happiness & purpose in building a business. It sounds weird to say since most people find that in children, spouses, art, etc. but for me – industry, creating content & jobs is what gives me a deep feeling of well-being and contentment.

In The Unbearable Lightness of Being Kundera worried that we couldn’t truly experience happiness since we only have one life to live & one set of experiences as our reality. But what he overlooked was the good and bad of life – those are two very separate paths and everyone at some point has experienced both.

If you can feel, taste & vividly remember the times you were unhappy – and the things/people/situations that contributed – you will have a much deeper appreciation of the things/people/situations that bring you happiness.

Two lives, two paths

We do live two lives. One is the path before we come into our own – it’s filled with belief systems and ways of viewing the world that are made up in large part by our “nurture” versus our innate nature.

The second life is starts when we blossom into a truly autonomous adult (sadly something that never happens to many people – regardless of their age). But when you fight for it – when you want that freedom, that independence, that feeling of being self made – more than anything in the World, it will come.

I’ve found deep meaning, purpose & happiness in creating something from nothing (in my case Zirtual). But I still feel a sense of foreboding, as someone who has been raised on readings from Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God I often feel like I’m eternally waiting *pun* for the other shoe to drop.

It hasn’t happened yet, but if it does I will accept that unhappiness/anger/discomfort because I know it will make my next cycle of happiness all the more sweet.

I finally realized that I now know “happiness” because of the years and years I spent feeling misunderstood, sad & alone – feeling like a business man trapped inside a little girl’s body.

I always idolized the titans of industry on the television and movies. I watched movies like Sabrina and instead of envying the poor girl who experiences the whole “Cinderella treatment” I wanted to be Harrison Ford’s character – the powerful businessman. In retrospect my parent’s must have though I was insane.

There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time. Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless. — Milan Kundera