The Impressionist painters of the nineteenth century had an implicit philosophy of transience that points us in a wiser direction. They accepted the transience of happiness as an inherent feature of existence and could in turn help us to grow more at peace with it. Sisley’s painting of a winter scene in France focuses on a set of attractive but utterly fugitive things. Towards dusk, the sun nearly breaks through the landscape. For a little time, the glow of the sky makes the bare branches less severe. The snow and the grey walls have a quiet harmony; the cold seems manageable, almost exciting. In a few minutes, night will close in.
Impressionism is interested in the fact that the things we love most change, are only around a very short time and then disappear. It celebrates the sort of happiness that lasts a few minutes, rather than years. In this painting, the sky is beautiful at this moment, but it is about to go dark. This style of art cultivates a skill that extends far beyond art itself: a skill at accepting and attending to short-lived moments of satisfaction.
The peaks of life tend to be brief. With the Impressionists to guide us, we should be ready to appreciate isolated moments of everyday paradise whenever they come our way.
"The Unbearable Lightness of Being": And therein lies the whole of man's plight. Human time does not turn in a circle; it runs ahead in a straight line. That is why man cannot be happy: happiness is the longing for repetition. Happiness lies in repetition; repetition is at the heart of eternal return; eternal return is what gives lives weight. Because humans don't experience things circularly, events are not repeated for us, which means they don't gather weight, which means they are light – unbearably so. Hence… the unbearable lightness of being. Kundera began his novel with a premise stated right there in his title: life is light, and is unbearable because of it. And it's not until the end of the novel that he concludes his arguments as to why that is.