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”
– John Kohenig
This fascinating word, coined by author John Kohenig has inspired me to share and muse upon the concept of sonder….
Imagine that every human being is like a character; the protagonist in the center of their own unraveling story. Your friends and family are your supporting cast whilst acquaintances are merely the transient, minor characters who act as catalysts to your own story of complex twists and turns. And the passersby or the strangers who casually walk past you on the street are the extras. You are the center of your solar system, the burning sun at the core of the universe, surrounded by its orbiting planets. Yet, each planet or ‘extra’ also has a life as vivid and complex as your own. As you pass a stranger on the street do you ever wonder if he or she is content with the life they have been given? Does the stranger have the same regrets, hopes, dreams, drives and worries as you? Each and every one of us come to be an extra in someone else’s life story (which we may never learn of) because at some point in our life, we may be that person who coughs quietly on a train or the person who sits reading in a cafe, unnoticed by the world around them. Perhaps consumed by the intricacies of our own web of life, each character plays a significant role: together in one continuous flow of complex expression, we convey exactly what it means to be a human in the most beautiful way possible.