“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” George RR Martin

The linearity of a life does not apply to those who read. The multitude of emotions of a lifetime is magnified when we embark on someone else’s journey. We are transposed from what we are currently living, whether it be happiness, sadness, a day filled with stressed or anguish, and we are taken on a tour of emotions and adventures that someone else is living.

We can live the realities which suit us the most: we can anger in the mistreatment and injustice of Fanny Price, or we can fall in love with Mr Rochester and live in XIX century England for a couple of hours every day, or even, partake in solving a puzzling murder with our detective of choice. We can fly with dragons, if we wish, or spend a year on a boat lost at sea with Pi and his animals. I clearly remember how the world was made greyer the day my favourite character died, or got their heart broken, or even, lost a family member. At the same time, I remember laughing so hard that I felt embarrassed sitting on an air plane.

We are often seduced by distinct realities to our own and stricken by emotions that are common to all of us, and this touches us more than generosity and voyeurism of someone else’s life. As different as we might be, it is humbling to see how Ondjaki’s childhood in Africa hits home. What we saw was so different, yet so alike, what we felt and how we processed was so similar. This window to someone else’s life, which resonates so much with us, it the key to empathy, to understand that all our stories are as complex, as layered and as rich as we a different, distinct and alike.

"Perfect Reading" / "Leitura Perfeita"
Mixed Media on Canvas / Técnica Mista sobre Tela
150 x 100 cm
Photography / Fotografia: Hugo de Almeida