Do you ever listen to a song and find it impossible to stop yourself from singing along? Or read a book and suddenly feel your face hurting because you’ve been sitting there smiling as you flip through the pages? There’s something so incredible about finding art that make you feel something like that, that indescribable experience of being so lost in someone else’s creation that for a moment you forget all the flaws around you or the problems you face and just fall into something other than yourself.
I often try to put a label on the things I enjoy. As a reader who writes the occasional book review, I am frequently asked what my favourite genre is. Usually, my answer is “I will read anything”, but recently I have begun to discover that while I have no strong genre preference, what I do have is an intention preference. I want to read things with soul, books where you can feel passion and sincerity oozing from the words, picture the authors stringing together these sentences and scenes that for them, even if it’s just for a moment, mean everything.
I have read a lot of books, but there are some notable works that stand out to me as the pinnacle of passionate and meaningful writing. One such example is the book I’m currently reading, She Came to Stay by Simone De Beauvoir. On a recent trip to Paris, a wonderful friend of mine ventured into Shakespeare and Co. near Notre Dame. As any sensible person would, he found himself lost in this phenomenal bookstore. I’m not quite sure how he managed to stumble across She Came to Stay, all I know is that it was with great excitement that he gave me the book on his return home. And maybe that excitement has contributed to the deep pleasure I’ve found within its pages, something about the intention behind the gift influencing my reading. Regardless, my experience of this novel has been one of such deep satisfaction and happiness, I almost can’t put it in to words. De Beauvoir has created this moving and beautiful story based on nothing more than people. Their interactions, their feelings, how the world around them shapes their every action and thought. In a way, this novel has been grounding, like a breath of fresh air that reminds you to breathe deep and enjoy the clarity of the day.
Some of the most important works of art are those that remind you that you are not alone. So often we forget that our lives are not singular, they are just one in a long and continuous stream of human existence. The things we feel, thoughts we have and the experiences we create are not unique, people have lived these moments before. It’s true that no two situations are ever completely the same, but all the while, we are not alone in these moments that make up our lives.
I guess what I’m trying to impart is the importance of finding the art that resonates with you. Those songs that feel like they’re written for you, the books that seem to have a pearl of wisdom for every experience in your life. The creations of other people that make you feel like you’re not alone in your feelings or your experiences, to me, are some of the things that make life worth living, and I hope I will never stop discovering them.