In the unbearable lightness of being, Milan Kundera explained that we all need to be watched. He divides the people in four categories according to this paradigm. The first one needs the look of a infinite number of people. The second one needs the look of familiar faces. The third one needs the look of the one they love (and without it, everything falls apart), and the last one lives under a imaginary look coming from absent people.
This last category belongs to the dreamers. I’ve met many people in the first, second and third categories described by Milan Kundera, but this one is really an exception as he said. Yet, when you think about it, when we break up with our partner, some people still act as if they were watched by their ex, even though he/she’s not there anymore. My former director, who was in the middle of a divorce when I left his company, did everything in his life in function of what his ex-wife would have liked him to do, strangely, although his ex left him for her gym teacher. Of course, it was temporary, but it showed that sometimes, we can all fall into this dreamer category, whether we’re conscious of it or not.
People who lose the one they love by a tragic death can also react like that. I confess that when one of my best friends died in an accident many, many years ago, I still reacted as if he would approve or disapprove what I was doing, and it lasted years after he passed away. He was like a brother to me, and we often fought when he was alive because of my then misbehaviors. I wasn’t an angel at that time, and his loss basically put my life under a huge questioning. He became a little voice inside my head that told me not to do this, or to do that.
Recently, I watched a report where a young homeless struggled to get herself out of the streets after her boyfriend’s death, and she had those words for the journalist: “I know he wanted me to have a better life, so I tried my best to get out of my situation. The temptation to go backwards is always there, but each time I doubt, I think about him, and it gives me the strength to carry on” she said. She reacted exactly as I did, many years ago.
Reacting like that, as if we were watched by someone absent, can be really helpful to us, in certain circumstances.
So, have you ever been in a situation like that? And under which category described by Milan Kundera would you fall?