Written by: Sabine Roggermeier
Are you one of those people who enjoy to learn about the lives of others, whether that’s by watching a documentary, reading a biography or getting to know new people in real life? If so I bet you couldn’t wait for better weather to come around and cafés reopening their outdoor seating space. Sitting there sipping on something nice while watching people do their thing whatever that might be is such a delicious way to pass time.
It reminds me of sonder, a neologism created by John Koenig I learned about a while ago, and that still fascinates me. Have you ever heard of it? My spellchecker obviously hasn’t! The definition from the “Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows” says that it is the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk. I know I felt this emotion many times in my life. It always captivated me as it connects me to the grandeur of life that’s too grand for me to really fathom.
Getting to know someone new is a portion of this grandeur that I can process in my human brain and I love it. People are fascinating. Everyone has a story to tell with turns and twists you didn’t anticipate and that are as exciting as a well-written novel. They are warriors in their own lives, who like any sometimes win and sometimes loose, neither of which changes the value or true importance of the person. Listening to what they have to say, what opinions and wisdom they gathered throughout their lifetime shows how many colors there are on the color wheel of life. Nothing is unheard of and nothing is impossible.
When was the last time you were admired with such a set of fresh eyes, whether by a new acquaintance or by yourself looking back at your life? When did you last recognize and appreciate all the battles you’ve been through, conquests you’ve made and lessons you’ve learned?
This week’s homework:
If you would meet yourself for the first time what would you be fascinated by?