A Window and a Passing Moment

By July 6, 20142014, Europe

A few months before I left my home in St. Stephen, New Brunswick I learned a new word: ‘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.” As I am approaching the end of my journey across Europe this word has come alive to me, and has become my travel companion as I continue into the future. I have now been to seven of the nine countries I will be visiting in Europe and in each one I have been striving to take a glimpse into the window of the life of others. I have had moments of true connection both with the peers on my trip and complete strangers, to me these moments have been more enriching than any trip to a museum, or lecture I have attended. There is so much I could say about this time of growth and transition in my life, but the words do not want to flow. Two months in Europe with thirty other people on a bus is an exhausting experience, I am tired of tents, bugs, living out of my backpack, and never getting a good night’s rest but none of this can compare to how utterly grateful I am. I have been given an experience to learn and am walking away with wider eyes (both for the extreme beauty and terrible hatred in this world), as well as ears that want to listen, and a mouth that is beginning to appreciate the beauty of sometimes remaining shut. My trip to Europe has changed me but not in the ways I expected it to, my change has come in the subtle and humble idea of “sonder“ and a bigger heart for the lives of those I may never meet who simply wish to be seen.

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