Your life is a story. The days flip past, too quickly to absorb, a mess of seemingly random events. So you look back and highlight certain moments as important, as turning points to the plot. You trace each thread back to its origin, finding omens and ironies scattered along the way, until it all feels inevitable, and your life makes sense. You know how this story is going to end, but you're still eager to skip ahead, dying to know what happens next.
But there are times when you look up and realize that the plot of your life doesn't make sense to you anymore. You thought you were following the arc of the story, but you keep finding yourself immersed in passages you don't understand. Either everything seems important or nothing does. It's a tangled mess of moments that don't even seem to belong in the same genre, that keeping changing depending on what you choose to highlight.
What kind of story is this? Just another coming-of-age tale, the same one your parents told, with the names switched around? Is your everyday life part of the origin story of something truly epic? Are you unwittingly getting by on other people's charity, mistaking your own luck for your own success? Are you on the cusp of some cruel twist of fate, of a golden age, of a strange new world? Are you a character in a romance, a tragedy, a travelogue, or just another cautionary tale?
As you thumb through the years, you may never know where this all is going. The only thing you know is that there's more to the story. That soon enough you'll flip back to this day looking for clues of what was to come, rereading all the chapters you skimmed through to get to the good parts--only to learn that all along you were supposed to choose your own adventure.
THE DICTIONARY OF OBSCURE SORROWS
From The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, a web series that defines newly invented words for strangely powerful emotions. New episodes every Sunday, on TestTube and YouTube.
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of invented words written by John Koenig. Each original definition aims to fill a hole in the language-to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don't yet have a word for. The author's mission is to capture the aches, demons, vibes, joys and urges that roam the wilderness of the psychological interior. Each sorrow is bagged, tagged and tranquilized, then released gently back into the subconscious.