Seeking Sonder

This afternoon, in a round-about way and with an acute case of writer’s block (perhaps more accurately termed writer’s avoidance as I was avoiding a topic that had called to me for much of the day), I stumbled upon The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows and I was delighted to enter in for a time.

It is, in a nutshell, a blog that showcases words made up by the blog’s author, John Koenig. It is delightful.

Every word and definition is accompanied by a video illustrating the meaning of the invented word. This one caught my attention today: Sonder. According to the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows it means:

noun. 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.

Check out the poignant video that goes along with the definition.

Isn’t it wonderful? It brings to mind certain books I’ve read that had a sense of sonder about them. It reminds me of countless hours I’ve spent sitting in airports watching people and imagining what their stories might be. It inspires me to open up Scrivener and dive back into the work I started when my muse visited more often than she seems to in recent days. The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows may be the kick-in-the butt I need to get me back on track with some writing projects–one in particular that’s been nagging at me.

Check out The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows blog, Facebook Page, or YouTube channel. You’ll be glad you did.


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.
  1. Well!Youve certainly taken me on a journey with this dictionary!!! One half hour later,I look up and my friends are ready to go out for dinner and I’m watching UTube! So glad you posted this. More to think about.

  2. Love it, Linda. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!!

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