Sonder & Solace

I am a self described wordy. I learned to read very early and immersed myself in stories. Fond memories pouring over dictionaries, thesauruses, even baby name books, are precious to me.  As an empath, highly sensitive person, or feeler, I now know I was doing more than just reading words. I felt words. I wrote words for the feel, sometimes boxy sharp letters, sometimes elegant flowing script. I said the words out loud, over and over, exaggerated, felt my lips and tongue create the word, a special kind of private happiness. Words allowed me to create worlds of exotic imaginary people, enjoying obscure names different than anyone I knew in real life. Words added a richness, an escape, and a way to make sense of my world. It is not a stretch to say, I have always loved words and the power of language. When people were unsafe growing up, words were my friends and allies, a cherished escape, a way to expand thoughts beyond the constrictive walls of my childhood. 

Words are a best effort to describe this phenomenon of living. We strive to describe what we sense, what we see, how we feel, how we love. In truth, we cannot fully describe any experience. Description can never replace experience. Being, doing, feeling, trumps description, as surely as the stark difference of describing a breath versus taking a breath are distinctly different forces. 

I’d like to share 2 of my current favorite words with you, with the gentle reminder to let the words guide you to and through your personal experience. 

Sonder (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 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. (Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows)

Solace (n.) comfort in sorrow, misfortune, or trouble; alleviation of distress or discomfort; something that gives comfort, consolation, or relief

I’ve named the sessions offered at WOW Sonder and Solace as a best effort to describe an experience that can’t fully be described. I’ve always wondered why I’ve been drawn to reach out to strangers, offer a smile, a compliment, thank the street performers in cities I’ve lived, give my to-go box to a person in deep struggle living without walls in my walkable city, make eye contact with babies and send them a prayer of growth and protection. Sonder and Solace describe how I move through the world and the ways in which healing makes sense to me. I wonder what these words mean to you, today? I hope you bring more solace into your moments of sonder, for yourself, and for the world. What if this is how we take ownership of fleeting moments and turn those moments into the energy of healing? Gandhi didn’t say ‘read about the change,’ he said, ‘You must BE the change you wish to see in the world.’ How will you be today? 

In Sonder and Solace,
Nikki Eisenhauer