The magic just outside ourselves

Thursday nights are awkward days. There’s only so much variety to be had on a Thursday night. It’s too early for the ragers of the weekend yet too late in the week to sit tight and do nothing. Last Thursday night was no exception.

I had just come back from hanging out with friends and walked into my apartment building. On the way in, I stopped to chat with the staff member at the 24 hour desk. He was excited.

I mean excited, like

excited. Like:

Which is pretty darn excited. His reason? He had just spoken to a friend who told him that he spoke better Arabic than a CIA translator the friend knew. I barely knew the guy, I had just met him in that instant. But that short conversation spoke volumes about who he was as a person.

An ordinary moment for you may not be for someone else

There’s a word out there you should all immediately put into your vocabulary:

Click for source

Sonder: 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. ~Source

This one word contains within it so much magic. Sonder is the concept that allows the worker at the 24 hour desk to have a moment of glory. Sonder is the exact same one that lets you have your own moments. Sonder is life.

If I had to use an image to desribe my day, I’d choose this one:

Yay. For me, nothing groundbreaking happened on Thursday. I went to classes, caught up with friends, and did homework like any other ordinary day. That doesn’t mean that someone just got off the phone after landing a big job. Maybe in a park downtown, someone said yes. In a nearby hospital, someone had a baby or a death. Maybe a blogger you love to read is the same person who was behind you in traffic.

The fact of the matter is that there’s no way to tell. As David Foster Wallace said in his speech “This is Water”

…Of course, none of this is likely, but it’s also not impossible. It just depends what you what to consider. If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on
your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow,
consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

~David Foster Wallace

As an aside, if you haven’t already, watch a video of one of the most powerful excerpts of his speech by clicking here.

Sure. We can live every day in perpetual boredom. We can look exasperatedly at all of the idiocy in the world. But sitting around like this

never did any good. People say that the grass is greener on the other side, but I say that the other side is always around us. The grass is as green was we say it is. We don’t need Scotts to have beautiful gardens. With all of the beauty happening to and experienced by others, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be like this every day:

And that’s an incredible thought to think.

Featured image by Joshua Earle Photography


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