April 16 2013

For those uninitiated, sonder is defined as follows: 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.

A brief story set in New York.

Somehow, I got into my head that I must to move to a city. I wanted to lose myself beneath gigantic concrete, glass, and steel behemoths and in between millions of denizens. So, I packed a suitcase and went to New York, NY. Youthful anticipation is beautiful and naive. I had saved up enough capital for my rent and daily expenditures, and I had planned a sizeable list of things to do. I was bursting with excitement, I could not wait to live in the Big Apple!

On the third morning after my arrival, I left my apartment with a self-guided tour of the New School in mind. Fast forward to me heading down the yellow line near Prince street. There I was, sitting on some train car, underground, moving 30 mph, when four men approached me and asked for the time. As soon as I pulled out my phone, I was punched square in the jaw and I was knocked to the ground. The moment was surreal, absurd. I can remember seeing blood drip from my mouth to the ground, and I can remember looking for the others on the train. I wasn't looking for help-- I knew that wouldn't come. It was a disappointed, defeated gaze. I was drawn to my feet by one of the men, and, again, I was queried for the time. For a second time I moved for my phone; I read the numbers on the screen, 1:27 pm. They replied with a, "Thank You," and exited at the next stop.

I forwent my trip to the New School and returned home where I immediately threw my list of activities in the trash. It was not going to be like this and I was not going to do that. Those men had taken my naivety, but in return they gave me time. From that point forward, I spent my time observing others and losing myself in my being.

The city was no longer a fairytale; it lied naked before me. It was a battleground and a playground. In five minutes on a subway I saw the worst of humanity, in the remainder of my trip I had prove that humans could be great as well. Weeks later, I met a future amazing friend in a bar that I frequented. We began talking mutual interests: film, music, travel, art, everything. We both happened to be frisbee fanatics so I suggested we throw some disk. We agreed and spent following at Bryant park making each other laugh.

With this, my story comes to a close. Humanity's beauty is usually not found in grandiose efforts of altruistic sacrifice. Though it does happen that way sometimes, it usually presents itself in the mundane. Two people, throwing a frisbee, on a small patch of green, lost in tangled metal. I am not imparting a philosophy of life or giving worthwhile advice. Understand that we live our individual lives and only you can decide how you will affect others.

Evan Noble
Washington, DC
[email protected]

P.S. This message is dedicated to April for introducing me to The Listserv.

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