The liberating concept of sonder and being forgotten

Do people smile at you or look the other way?

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Besides your partner, family and friends, nobody cares about you. Most of the people already forgot you exist.

And yet, you worry: what did they think about my presentation? How did I come across at the dinner? Why did I say that? What do they think about [insert whatever]?

Well, nobody really gives a shit and we did not really notice. Our lives are as vivid and as complex as yours, and you are just that extra, appearing and disappearing from our lives, the same way as we appear and disappear from yours. This beautiful realisation, that everyone is living as vividly as you, is called sonder1.

Transaction is processed and I am forgotten, nothing remains. After I paid for my coffee, he served you. After I left the company, somebody stepped in. After I broke her heart, she moved on.

Transactions complete and we forget. Sometimes we meet again and say: how have you been, oh, it has been a long time, right, too long. Sometimes we pretend we did not notice each other on the street.

Being forgotten liberates you from the unproductive thinking about what others think; it helps you focus on what really matters: today and Now. Being forgotten is also sad, because you become aware of your own insignificance.

In a thousand years, even much earlier, nobody will know I ever existed unless I produce something monumental; but hey, even then, how often do you read texts from Aristoteles, Thomas Aquinas or Marcus Aurelius?

Everything moves on while we free fall through the universe.

And as we move, we remember strong emotions: rage or grief much more than joy and happiness. What do you really remember? Extremes burn into your mind; the rest is yesteryear's snow.

What is not forgiven cannot be forgotten; I have the responsibility to be good and do good. This gives you a chance to forget me and then still smile when I reappear in your life as an extra on the other side of the street. I am sorry if I made you look away.

Do people smile at you or look the other away? I cannot wait to see you again.


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1

a neologism, a relatively recent term entering common use. Sonder (n.) was created by John Koenig from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows