A World of Strangers

Hohenschwangau, Germany, 2011.

Hohenschwangau, Germany, 2011.

We co-exist in this world with a multitude of strangers. As we go about our lives each day, ever focused on the next to-do task, or the next destination, the sea of faces within our peripheral vision passes us by in a blur, not unlike the deluge of advertisements that are often swiftly and mindlessly dismissed in our heads: fleeting, insignificant, unworthy of remembrance.

Were you to take a pause, a closer look, or a moment to understand, would you notice the little idiosyncrasies surfacing as hazy countenances slowly come to focus? Have you ever wondered about the chaos that could stir, should you learn of the stories hidden in the hearts of strangers made dear? Could you imagine the intensity with which they might irrevocably touch the depths of your soul, henceforth changing the course of your lives forevermore?

Each stranger, living a life not unlike our own, with his or her own dreams and ghosts, triumphs and tribulations, loves and losses; each life as vivid, as intense, fraught with humanness. But strangers we would all remain, lone travellers on this journey of life, until the day we learn to turn an ordinary moment into one that would mark the rest of our lives.

Him, with the windswept hair, sitting across from you on the train, staring out of the window with a doleful expression, deep in thought; her, with the light in her eyes, the one you see in the bookstore each Wednesday without fail, lost in the words of Nietzsche. We could have been strangers that never met; parallel lines, so close, yet never meeting. Our features, likewise, dissolving into a medley of indistinguishable faces, never revealing the beauty that could unfurl from within.

In a world full of strangers, I found one. Magical, mystical, starlight amid sunshine.

– Agnes Chew


sonder /SAHN-der/
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.
– The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows



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