Columns > Published on July 21st, 2015

Advice From A Literary Character: Sabina from "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"

The answers to life’s big questions don’t always come easily. It’s no wonder we seek out the advice of others so often. The obvious choices for this advice are friends, family, and loved ones, but have you ever wondered what your favorite literary characters would say to the questions that carry so much…well, weight?

For LitReactor’s second round of Advice From A Literary Character, we have the pleasure of hearing from The Unbearable Lightness of Being’s Sabina.

1. What is the meaning of life?

I see life as an ocean, frozen over. A span of time on which we should all glide, never stopping for too long. Meaning has no place in my idea of what life is. I know this is not popular opinion. I am not known to carry the same ideas and values as most people, and I am not sorry for it. My hope is that you will find something, and not someone, to love. You might as well.

The only way you can sufficiently guard your heart is if you live a life in which you have nothing to lose.

2. What happens when we die?

Most of us become the terrible "kitsch" version of ourselves we've been waltzing with since birth, but if you are aware of this dreadful potential you may be able to rise above it. In death, you can only hope to become nothing. This is the ultimate beauty. There are times when I feel so empty, I am sure death has come for me. I imagine that is very much how death will feel.

3. How do I avoid pain?

Emotional pain is the byproduct of extremism, commitment, and weight. Practice restraint, self-love, and always find the humor in a situation. Humor creates a bond with another person while simultaneously creating distance. All these reverse magnets within human interaction! It's like they say: laugh it off. The things that seem to be the most grave tend to house the most humor. A painful memory, for instance, if looked at from a different perspective will have you tearing up with laughter. If you are physically hurt, give a good holler and cry until you realize how silly you look, then realize the pain will pass.

4. What is the best way to deal with conflict?

Again, restraint. Don’t allow yourself to get too deep into an argument. Remember, you can always leave a situation that does not suit you. You can leave a situation even if it does suit you. Taking control of the experiences you have becomes simple once you learn to let go, once you admit to yourself that nothing is really that important.

5. How do I know when I’ve met my soulmate?

Are you joking? What do you expect me to say? Now I am the one with all the questions. You are your own soulmate, but be skeptical even of yourself! Trust no one, expect nothing, be okay with being alone and with even less than that. I know it sounds dark, but it’s really not. It’s light. Take lovers, use them for what they are good for, let yourself be used, but remember to return to your solitude, always. I don’t know where this idea came from, that we need another person. Throw that idea out the window. Paint a beautiful picture instead.

6. How will I know when I’m happy?

If you happen to be in the moment, in any given situation, that is the only happiness. Sorrow lives in regret, memory, and worrying about the future. Have you noticed that most people spend their precious time in these sorrowful spaces? It’s tragic, really. I see it in the faces of my lovers, that they are elsewhere, and I have the impulse to leave. I don’t want that tendency, that look on their faces, to rub off on me. You understand.

7. What’s the cure for a broken heart?

If you are unfortunate enough to have allowed someone to get so close to you that they could actually break your heart, you must never let it happen again. Learn from this mistake. I do realize if you’re asking this question, what I’ve just said is no help. So, to cure your current broken heart, do not waste time dwelling on it for too long. Take an extended vacation somewhere far from where you live, or move entirely. The only way you can sufficiently guard your heart is if you live a life in which you have nothing to lose. It won’t be easy to break old habits at first, so start immediately.

Sabina is certainly a woman living on her own terms. Do you agree with her approach?

Which other literary characters do you think would give good advice?

About the author

Christine J. Schmidt is a writer originally from New Jersey. After receiving her BFA in Dramatic Writing from SUNY Purchase, she worked at Seattle Repertory Theatre as their artistic literary intern. She recently left Brooklyn, where she was a bookseller and events host at WORD, to reside in Los Angeles. She has previously written for New York Theatre Review, and her plays have been read and produced at theaters in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Washington. Coffee is her favorite thing.

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