I am nineteen floors up staring at downtown Atlanta. Thousands of people are going about their day in front me, totally unaware of the face in a window observing from above. My presence, my life, my hopes and dreams are non-existent as they go about their day. It's fascinating, because until I started paying attention they were a backdrop to my day, too. There's a beautiful word that describes this, and it's one I think of all the time since learning it.
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" (The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows)
I see a teenage boy getting frustrated as he tries to land a trick on his skateboard. He tries over and over again, his back foot falling off each time. He kicks the board in the bushes out of frustration. I wonder if his ambition is to go professional and landing this one trick is the next stepping stone.
I see a young girl with arms extended in front of herself taking a selfie. She poses and snaps a picture. She poses again and snaps another. Then she hurries across street to catch up with her friends. I wonder who she was sending it to or if it was her latest Facebook post to a social network of a thousand more people I don't know.
There is a woman walking a tiny puppy in the park. Every person she meets stops to talk and pet the adorable dog. It's looks like a magnet drawing people in from this height. I wonder if she will meet someone who never would have said anything without the kind social grace a puppy provides. Maybe it will be just enough encouragement for the loneliness they feel today.
I see a ferris wheel of sorts called Skyview rotating high into the air. As it stops, I imagine the couple sitting at the top, maybe just enjoying the view, or maybe deciding to spend the rest of their life together. I wonder if they're happy and full of those infatuated feelings you experience in the beginning of the relationship, or if they're here celebrating an anniversary and the low, deep burn of commitment is being stoked into flame as they enjoy their vacation.
I could list endless examples as people move about their day and new people enter the scene. I am the "lighted window at dusk" right now, and it's making me happy to be alive. It's making me aware that we all aren't so different. It's reminding me we all think our stories are the most important thing in the world, but there are actually billions of stories swirling around us, each beautiful and full of hopes and struggles, but totally unknown to the passerby.