I'm currently listening to the audiobook Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
I generally listen to audiobooks while doing chores, or any activity that doesn't require much concentration. If the book is good, I become a sort of robot. My mind is engrossed in the plot while my body moves slowly... doing tasks almost absentmindedly, as if in a trance. I quite like it. 😌
While washing dishes (in my usual automaton style), I can be transported to 19th century Russia, going on adventures with characters and sharing in thier joys and their pains. In this way, I've come to deeply enjoy chores and do them happily :) ✨
On paper, I couldn't be more separate from the characters. They lived in a different time, in a country that's foreign to me with a culture that I don't really understand. They speak a different language, are of a different ethnicity and had a different upbringing. In theory, we couldn't be further apart.
Yet, as I read, I felt so connected to them. 🌱
Tolstoy eloquently describes their complex emotions as they navigate through life. Despite our differences, it was all so relatable. The situations were foreign to me, yet the internal monologs were so familiar.
This got me thinking about the universal human experience and reminded me of a book I read a few months back. In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig does a really great job exploring this concept.
In this book, the protagonist was able to 'try out' alternate lives. Her aim was to figure out which 'life' suited her. She tried out the life of a famous musician, philosophy lecturer, writer, olympic swimmer etc.
As she experieced different versions of herself in different realities, she felt pretty much the same. She described being:
'Your same rotten self with different furnishings.'
At the end of all of her adventures, she concluded that you really don't have to experience everything to be satisfied. You don't have to live out your fantasy lives to have access to the whole scope of the human experience. The full range of human emotions are already available to us.
'Maybe that's what all lives were, though. Maybe even the most seemingly perfectly intense or worthwhile lives ultimately felt the same.'
'Of course, we can't visit every place or meet every person or do every job, yet most of what we'd feel in any life is still available. We don't have to play every game to know what winning feels like. We don't have to hear every piece of music in the world to understand music. We don't have to have tried every variety of grape from every vineyard to know the pleasure of wine. Love and laughter and fear and pain are universal currencies.'
'We are as completely and utterly alive as we are in any other life and have access to the same emotional spectrum.'
A quote From Anna Karenina 🌻
In a conversation between Serpuhovskoy and Vronsky, Serpuhovskoy says:
'But I'm married, and believe me, in getting to know thoroughly one's wife, if one loves her, as someone has said, one gets to know all women better than if one knew thousands of them.'