I had a moment of sonder today. For those who haven’t seen those lists of “14 words you didn’t know existed!”, “sonder” means “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own“. I’ve had this realisation about other people several times, but today I experienced it in a new way and it got me thinking about what I’m doing here, with this pristine new blog.
So, for background, I’ve recently been listening to the original cast recording of the groundbreaking Broadway musical Hamilton. And I got really, really into it and I started looking up the history and following people on Tumblr and tracking down all the #Ham4Ham videos and, since Broadway is several thousand kilometres away from my current position, basically doing everything I could to match up the songs with some mental visuals. I also recently auditioned for an amateur theatre company at the same time that I was reading Amy Poehler’s excellent memoir, Yes Please. Which is all to say that theatre and performance have been on my mind lately.
And then the trigger – with Hamilton‘s “Non-Stop” running through my head, I heard my housemate watching a show I couldn’t identify on TV. There was a burst of applause. And I thought: all around the world, thousands of audiences are clapping for thousands of performances that I will never see. From massive Broadway shows and blockbuster movies to every kid proudly performing in their living room to three indulgent relatives – every one is an original work and there are so many, with more every day. Humanity has created such an enormous body of work that even to get through the seminal works of one genre is a huge undertaking.
There are so many wonderful things that might never come into my frame of reference – and that’s not even considering all the potentially enjoyable things I dismiss out of hand because I got the wrong impression, or I wasn’t in the right headspace or the fans were too weird. Orange is the New Black fell prey to this for a long time – I remember watching the first episode and asking, “Why did nobody tell me this was funny?”
It’s beginning to make me feel inadequate because of the sheer amount of things I haven’t read or seen yet. I know that the artists I admire all have in common a voracious appetite for art.
Then again, surely just consuming more is not the best goal for me to have? I should be creating! Improving the world! Exercising talents! Leaving a legacy for humanity! But one thing at a time.
I’m in an interesting place with regards to this right now because I have a visa application pending and I’m not legally allowed to work until it’s approved, sometime in April. So this is my chance to read, watch and listen like never before. If I can come out of this with a new appreciation for a whole lot of media, I won’t feel like I’ve wasted these precious months.
I’ll be reviewing those new things here as I get through them, to keep my hand in. I hope you enjoy the journey with me!