Your Life Is Unique. Just Like Everyone else.

Your Life Is Unique. Just Like Everyone else.

The topic of discussion today is the term 'Sonder' – a beautiful neologism (that is to say, a newly coined word or expression) from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

This unique book is an original dictionary of made up words written by John Koenig to fill in the gaps of the English language with hundreds of new terms for specific previously inexpressible emotions.


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.
Audio version

In the quietude of our everyday lives, nestled within the folds of reality, there thrives an ethereal concept, a concept foreign to many tongues yet deeply familiar to the human heart - sonder. It is a term that whispers tales of individuality and unity, solitude and communion, a profound recognition of the universe encapsulated within each passerby. It is the sudden, striking realization that every soul we pass in our mundane journeys carries within them a story as intricate, as convoluted, as deeply textured as our own.

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As we drift through the ebbs and flows of our own existence, we often perceive ourselves as the protagonists of an unfolding narrative. A narrative composed of joy and sorrow, triumphs and trials, love and loss. We are the suns around which our personal galaxies revolve, the epicenters of our own subjective realities. Yet, in the dance of sonder, we find ourselves humbled, reminded of our shared humanity and the myriad narratives that pulse, unseen, around us.

Each pair of eyes we meet, each stranger we brush past in the bustling city streets or the hushed corridors of a sleepy town, each solitary figure we see silhouetted against the setting sun – they are not mere extras in the grand screenplay of our lives. They, too, are the epicenters of their own worlds, protagonists in their own stories. They, too, have known love's tender touch and loss's biting sting, have cradled dreams and nursed heartbreaks, have danced with hope and wrestled with despair.

Sonder is the soft whisper that every soul has a song, a rhythm, a beat that echoes with the symphony of existence. It is a mirror that reflects the immeasurable depth and breadth of the human experience, the rich tapestry of emotions, thoughts, hopes, fears, and desires that shape our lives and give them meaning.

In the embrace of sonder, we find a profound sense of connection. We are, after all, bound by the threads of shared experiences and common narratives, the universal language of joy and pain, love and loss. Despite our differences, despite the borders and boundaries we construct, we are united by the essence of our humanity, by the shared journey of navigating the labyrinth of life.

But sonder is not merely a passive realization. It is a call to action, an invitation to empathy, understanding, and compassion. It urges us to look beyond our own experiences, to listen to the unsung symphonies around us, to acknowledge the depth and complexity of other lives. It is a reminder to treat every person with kindness, for we are all navigating our own tumultuous seas, all carrying our own burdens, all weathering our own storms.

The concept of sonder is a poetic testament to our shared humanity. It is a reminder that we are not alone, that our joys and sorrows, dreams and fears, are echoed in countless hearts around us. It is a call to recognize and respect the sacredness of every life, to treat every soul with the dignity and compassion it deserves.

In the end, sonder serves as a poignant reminder that we are but stars in the vast cosmic tapestry, each with our own light, our own warmth, our own story. Yet, together, we form constellations, connected by invisible threads, painting a breathtaking image of unity amidst diversity, harmony amidst chaos, hope amidst despair. In the dance of sonder - the symphony of souls, we find not just the beauty of our individual narratives, but the transcendent magic of our shared journey.

So, my fellow artists, let's embrace sonder. Let's honor the stories around us, and let's create with a newfound depth and connection. Let's make it a point to listen, to understand, and to celebrate these stories in our art and in our lives. Let's stay creative, stay connected, and never forget that every soul has it's story.