Shall we SONDER?


5 (4)

I sonder…an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill…

The patio at the coffee shop is empty aside from my husband and me. Leaning with my elbows on the table, two hands cupping my coffee, I sip at the hot delicious liquid.  My husband and I are joined in light conversation; we talk about the next leg of our journey once we leave Nelson. I can’t stay focused on him though, behind him 30 feet away, a stone wall rises up with many windows. Some are open, some are shut. One grabs my attention and I start to sonder.

That window belongs to someone. The stuff on the window sill is someone’s property. Someone lives there. What is their life like? What are they doing today? How did they come to be there in that apartment? Many scenarios go through my mind.

I’m sure we have all done this from time to time – sonder. We pull away from our self absorbed life to realize that there are other lives being lived around us. They all have a story. We can only guess to what their stories are.  Sometimes, I wonder if anybody has sondered about me. I will never know.

My husband snaps me back to attention and inquires about my mindless absence. With a grin on his face he asks if he is too boring for me or did I see someone naked, flashing in the window. I laugh and finish my coffee. We are ready to go on the next leg of our journey, north towards home. But before we go, I need evidence that I once thought about the life behind that open window. It’s a beautiful and mysterious window. The objects on the window sill are eye-catching. As I’m taking the picture, I sonder again…the bits and pieces belong to someone…were they gifts? Do the items bring them joy? Do they belong to someone old or someone young? What is their story? I will never know.

As we pull away from the curb in our car, I wonder to myself why I thought about another person’s life and their belongings. I didn’t come up with an answer. Well, not a very clear answer. I had my theories.

I have sondered much since that moment in Nelson, and I still question myself why I sonder. I think it’s to remember that we all have a story and nobody’s story is any less important than yours or mine. It’s a way to stay humble, empathetic, and connected to our fellow man. If that is the case, let me sonder often.



  1. n. 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.


© Jennifer Côté