unlived lives

The realization that she, too, would make mistakes and hurt people 'annihilated' her, she says. It's this crisis in her understanding that helped impel her to make the emotional teachers in her play—the beacons of moral honor—people who are themselves failing in full-fledged adulthood. 'The story of their lives might not immediately appear exemplary or what the younger character would want,' she explains. 'But there's a kind of transcendence and nobility they embody through having not lived the lives they wanted to.'

Playwright Annie Baker, quoted by Nathan Heller in 'Just Saying: The Anti-Theatrical Theatre of Annie Baker,' The New Yorker, Feb. 25, 2013.

Our unlived lives—the lives we live in fantasy, the wished-for lives—are often more important to us than our so-called lived lives. We can’t (in both senses) imagine ourselves without them.
Every modern person has their own repertoire of elsewheres, of alternatives—the places they go to in their minds, and the ambitions they attempt to realize—to make their actual, lived lives more than bearable. Indeed the whole notion of escape—that it is possible and desirable—is like a prosthetic device of the imagination. How could we live without it?

Adam Philips, from Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life and Houdini's Box, respectively. Quoted here.