Sonder: n. 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.
You are the main character, the protagonist, the star at the center of your own unfolding story. You are surrounded by friends and family hanging in your immediate orbit. A little further out, a network of acquaintances who drift in and out of contact over the years. And then, in the background, faint and out of focus, there are the extras. The random passersby.
They carry on invisibly around you bearing the accumulated weight of their own ambtions, friends, routines, mistakes, worries, triumphs and inherited craziness. Characters made of countless other stories that you’ll never be able to see, that you’ll never know exists. 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.
It’s really strange to think that we are all just background characters in other people’s lives. Someone you walk past while rushing to be somewhere or bump into on their way to get coffee and these people all have their own problems and insecurities and lives and we are not part of them. Everyone has a story, a family and troubles and achievements and a first kiss and a broken heart but you’ll never know any of it. Every human life is really intricate and expansive but they will walk into a shop and you’ll never see them again and you’ll never know just what they were thinking.
Right now, there are people all over the world who are are either lonely, or they are missing somebody. They are in love with someone they probably shouldn’t be in love with. They have secrets you wouldn’t believe. They wish and they dream and they hope on the streets and wonder what they have been through. They wonder if there are people out there like them. Every person you walk by has a past they may or not be proud of and a family they might be close to or far from and a lover they’re either with or apart from and a name and a personality and they might be having the greatest day of their life or the worst day.
We probably walk past hundreds of people a day and never once stop to think what they’re going through, what their life may be like. We’re too focused on our own.
NJun 18th, 2013