Here's a meme, if anyone wants it: What stories, books, or songs had such an influence on you that they helped form who you are?
One story that made such a difference for me: well, I can't remember the title or author. Great. I'll update if I figure out either. The story was science fiction. The main character was a man who was mildly obsessed with the notion of being able to live in one's ideal world. He'd seen an ad claiming that such a process existed. He kept thinking about checking it out -- but the wife would give him a chore, or the boy had a ball game, or -- and so on.
The story ends when he wakes up -- from that life -- and is asked if his time in his ideal world was satisfactory. He answers that it was, very -- and asks to be notified if it becomes possible to make the transfer permanent. Then he hands over his payment -- a salami and some wire, I think -- and goes out to pick his way through the post-apocalyptic rubblescape to his bit of shelter, hoping to get there before dark.
The idea that ordinary life is good enough to be someone's dreamt-of ideal has never left me. I was quite tickled when a fairly recent country song -- "Another Day in Paradise" -- took up the same theme. (If an annoying pop-up ad with audio pops up, my apologies -- it did once,but not the second time I tried the link.)