Nostalgia for infinite lives: why we read stories

by Dieu

Nostalgia and melancholy are two sides of the same moon.

We are nostalgic for all the lives we did not live, all the loves we did not have, all the hills we did not climb, all the beds we did not wake up in, all the secrets we did not share, all the doors we did not open, all the conversations that we missed, all the times we were not there to see it all.

And that is the melancholy underneath our skin that says, you cannot experience it all.

The soldier who has killed before he has kissed a girl.
The painter who travels to Haiti to find truth and peace.
The dancer who at 70 years remembers the beauty of the stage and lights and cries.
The child who walks the streets of an American city looking for his lost cat.

All these lives and more go on, pass on, and we are unaware of it all limited to our own spheres of existence, all happening under the same big sky (which is something of a consolation).

And this is why we read stories. We read stories in order to live infinite lives that could not be possible otherwise.