To start, my chosen word isn’t technically a word at all. Sonder, while well on it’s way to be in the official dictionary due to it’s widespread viral status on the Internet, currently resides as an unofficial word on dictionaryofobscuresorrows.com. I believe that this ‘outcast status’ is just as important and symbolic as the actual definition.
The definition of Sonder is something that revealed to me how alike everyone’s brains are. Before I came across the dictionary, I thought that the idea that Sonder defines was one that was exclusive to me, something only I thought about late at night. Read the definition, and you may find yourself nodding your head in recognition as you read along.
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.
As I walk to school with my headphones in, or sit on a bus, staring mistily eyed out into space, I realize that every person is not there to serve me. Sometimes I think that when I am out of sight, my friends, family, even just the anonymous blur that is the public, walk off the set-piece that is my life, or perhaps head to the charging receptacles and power down for the evening.
And so it is consistently such a shock when I realize that the sweaty man with a disgruntled dog has a rough thirty years of anecdotes, heartbreak, and struggles, or that the faithful gas station worker has no idea how he’ll continue paying for university, or, even my own friends, who I know better than most of my family, has secrets that he has never even spoken aloud.
For all these reasons and more, Sonder, while perhaps not a real word (yet) is the most important one in my life.