Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Sonder


A thought occurred to me on the drive home from a shoot today, a rationalization in attempt to explain my standoffish and insulated lifestyle as of late.

Photography as a hobby or an artistic exercise notwithstanding, the lifestyle of photography, an attitude removing oneself as an influence or even participant in events whilst taking part in their experience, has a strange sort of social cost. Removing oneself, cognitively if not realistically, and adopting the third-person-omniscient narrators perspective, is a trained instinct which inevitably bleeds into the personal human experience. In the lifestyle of photography, one's focus is wholly on others stories, or the stories surrounding the photographer. Over time, functioning as little more than record keepers with no particularly defined narrative outside an event or assignment, we completely lose sight of our own story, to the point where there may be no story left to tell, no underlying passion or driving element, no real substance to our function. As the storytellers, and especially among the best storytellers, we are not allowed to have overtly stated stories of our own lest we color the narrative with our bias.

Over this past year, with business shrinking and free time once again becoming a regular occurrence in my calendar, it dawns on me that I have no narrative of my own. I used to, and wrote with some frequency on the subject, but today I struggle to define any specific motivator driving me, a goal on which to focus. In telling others' stories, I stopped having one of my own, and lacking in this self-driven interest my pool of friends has dwindled along with the body of ancillary hobbies which used to affix my attention in relaxed periods. Today, I can't relax. Time available to ruminate is time spent panicking over how to deal with ruminating. It's a strange quandary.

Recently my boyfriend introduced me to the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, and the concept which most stood out to me was Sonder, the realization that every other person is experiencing a life as vivid and complex as your own, the realization that all people have deep and intricate stories of their own. The concept resonates with me, and I honestly believe it's an epiphany that would benefit more people to recognize in their daily lives. I find myself wondering, however, if there are others such as myself meandering through the ether, the story-less ones, far too affixed to dissecting the narratives of others to have formed a narrative of their own. To realize that lack of personal narrative may be a new obscure sorrow to explore.