TO SONDER: AN ANTIDOTE FOR ANXIOUS THOUGHTS

 
sonder (noun) the realisation 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.

Having reached this point in my life, I've come to the painful realisation that life is terrifying, and it is never not going to be. As a kid, you have this idea in your head of how adulthood is going to be, and how good you're going to be at being a self sufficient and put together person. Oh so naive to assume that by age 20 I'd have any more of an idea of the ways the world works. I think the secret that adults don't tell you when you're a kid is that you never get good at life, you just get a bit better at learning how to face each curveball thrown at you.

Naturally, I'm someone who spends too much time in my own head. I get so caught up with worries and anxious thoughts about the future that it is difficult to remember to stay focused on life at present. It is so easy to get trapped worrying about the most negligible of things which really don't matter to anyone else other than you. "What will people think of me if I turn up to this event wearing that?" or "If I do that in front of these people, everyone is going to look at me and think I'm strange." I find myself worrying so much about these trivial things that it stops me from enjoying myself. I spend such a huge portion of my life anxious of what complete strangers think of me, when in reality, they are probably taking much less notice of me than they are of themselves.

The term 'sonder' is a fairly recently coined word, which basically expresses how minuscule the individual life is in the grand scheme of things. (It's a lot less morbid than it sounds). Think back to the last time a stranger cut you up while you were driving. Maybe you thanked them with a rude hand gesture, called them a name under your breath, and then resumed your journey. To you, they were simply a nuisance on your drive. Another nameless character in your route from A to B. A villain in the story of your life, in which you are always the hero. It's rare that any of us would stop to think of where that person may have been going, where they came from, the last time they saw their mum, the last time they had their heart broken, or the last time they said I love you. Every single person, of the thousands of people you pass every day, has a complex life story which you are simply an extra in. Girl sipping coffee on the train platform. Man riding his bike past the living room window. Woman sitting alone on the park bench. You could be playing this part unknowingly in the story of anyone else's life, just as they are in yours.

To sonder, makes life feel an awful lot less terrifying. Sometimes we get so completely blinded by our own lives, and the tiny nuances which occur in them each day, that we are unable to put our problems into any form of context. It seems silly that we allow ourselves to get anxious over small things that happen to us once you put them into perspective. It's that putting things into perspective which is so hard to do. Millions of people wake up every day, just as you do, and each of those individuals are the main character of their own life story, each filled with it's own problems and anxious moments. Our worries are only as significant as we allow them to be, and looking at things on a bigger scale makes everything slightly less terrifying.



“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. - Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot.

No comments :

Post a Comment