Because They Are Travels: Into a Different Space, Time and Identity.
If I am to recall the moments from my childhood when I have felt the strongest in a joyful way — Absorbing Stories would surely occupy a lot of headspace!
The stories I read of Sindbad, Gulliver, Panchatantra, or the Arabian Nights — gave me some of the most intense and wonderful feelings. I immersed myself in the character, time and the environment of the story with a sense of both nervousness and excitement. The warm feeling inside my chest boiled to explode from the limitations of my physical body. It’s inability to do so being the only thing to remind me that my existence belonged here in this world in this country called Nepal and in this family called…
There were sports, TV cartoons and movies. While I didn’t find them as immersive as reading, they were deeply influential. I played a few video games but wasn’t too fond of them.
I wasn’t a social guy and I do not have fond memories with friends. Yes, there are moments with family that are special but let’s not talk about it here. What I want to discuss here is stories.
The moments I have spent absorbing fictional narratives or creating my own — strolling around my room and the house — are deeply special.
As time has passed, I have tried to understand why stories did to me what they did. I have tried to understand the feeling that arises when I am about to dive into one. The understanding process hasn’t been easy. But what I have come to realize lately is — this is a special subject for not just me but for a lot of people.
There are a lot of theories and a lot of interpretations. I don’t want to get into all that too. What I want to do, however, is share how I currently interpret the feeling generated both from the stories and the nature of stories. This interpretation is neither academic nor professional. It is about the reasons they make you feel that way and is simple:
Stories are a type of travel.
Yes, Stories are a form of travel. A psychological, spiritual, philosophical travel. This is what makes it special.
Not getting into the practical implications, I see three different types of travels we participate in during our immersing in the stories:
- Different Space
- Different Time
- Different Personality
These three factors are together responsible for creating that feeling.
- Different Space: Through stories, we travel into different places. Our mind seems to forget that the body it is in is actually in a cozy space — consuming a narrative. This frees us from the burdens of our current space. (Maybe we are freeloading!)
- Different Time: Same as the above, through stories we also travel into a different time. This frees us from the burdens of the current time and age. (Maybe we have an installment to clear tomorrow!)
- Different Personality: Perhaps the most important characteristic responsible for the joy stories produce — through stories we travel to a different personality. We forget our self-identity and become the character we relate to. We forget our national, cultural, religious, age identity as our mind relates to something else. This frees us from the bondages, headaches— anxieties of our present self. This relaxes us. (Maybe we do not like our present self, situation and society!)
This escape from the identity shackle is what most spirituality is about too!
But I have a question:
Does a person who absolutely loves his/her place, time and personality feel this way with stories too?