top of page
  • Writer's pictureDori King

Sonder With Mindful Awareness

Sonder. I read the word as my train passes through the European countryside. I have spent several days in a large city, and now get to catch up on email as the city becomes smaller and smaller and the green fields surround me. A colleague has presented this word as they describe community building and the importance of belonging.

Where did this word come from?  What does it mean? How does it connect to community and belonging? I turn to my research assistant, Google. I discover the word’s originator, John Koenig, and its definition as written by an unknown author (see Koenig's

definition below):

 The profound feeling of realizing that everyone, including strangers passing in the street, has a life as complex as one's own, which they are constantly living despite one's personal lack of awareness of it.

I experience this feeling as I wander city streets and see bits of people’s lives —— a child with a kitten, an older woman in a wheelchair with a younger woman, a baby in a tram cooing at an adult who smiles widely and laughs. The definition seems melancholy. Especially that last bit: “…they are constantly living despite one’s personal lack of awareness of it.”  

For me, writing means being mindfully aware of the world. I sometimes catch snippets of conversation or see people living their lives, and a story idea is activated in my mind. I jot it down in my notes. When I am looking for something to write, I come back to those quickly recorded notes.  I feel grateful in these moments because people have gifted me a moment in their lives, inspiring my writing.  Thank you, fellow humans!


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page