Haig, Matt - Reasons to stay alive - 14 Books and reading as a means of healing depression
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Matt Haig - Reasons to stay alive
There is this idea that you either read to escape or you read to find yourself. I don't really see the difference. We find ourselves through the process of escaping. It is not where we are, but where we want to go, and all that. …….
'The object of art is to give life a shape,' said Shakespeare And my life - and my mess of a mind - needed shape. I had 'lost the plot'. There was no linear narrative of me. There was just mess and chaos. So yes, I loved external narratives for the hope they offered. ….
Every book written is the product of a human mind in a particular state. Add all the books together and you get the end sum of humanity. Every time I read a great book I felt I was reading a kind of map, a treasure map, and the treasure I was being directed to was in actual fact myself. But each map was incomplete, and I would only locate the treasure if I read all the books, and so the process of finding my best self was an endless quest. And books themselves seemed to me to reflect this idea. Which is why the plot of every book ever can be boiled down to 'someone is looking for something'.
One cliche attached to bookish people is that they are lonely, but for me books were my way out of being lonely.
If you are the type of person who thinks too much about stuff then there is nothing lonelier in the world than being surrounded by a load of people on a different wavelength.
In my deepest state of depression, I had felt stuck. I felt trapped in quicksand (as a kid that had been my most common nightmare). Books were about movement. They were about quests and journeys. Beginnings and middles and ends, even if not in that order. They were about new chapters. And leaving old ones behind.
And because it was only a few months before that I had lost the point of words, and stories, and even language, I was determined never to feel like that again. I fed and I fed and I fed.
I used to sit with the bedside lamp on, reading for about two hours after Andrea had gone to sleep, until my eyes were dry and sore, always seeking and never quite finding, but with that feeling of being tantalisingly close.