25 Emotions People Feel, But Can't Explain
June 24, 2015
There are many feelings we can experience without an actual word that describes the sensation. So John Koenig created the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows to fill in all the holes of the language. These are deep...
Dictionary Of Obscure Sorrows
The realization that each passerby has 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.
The ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.
The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.
The bittersweetness of having arrived in the future, seeing how things turn out, but not being able to tell your past self.
The strange wistfulness of used bookshops - filled with thousands of old books you'll never have time to read, each of which is itself locked in its own era, bound and dated and papered over like an old room the author abandoned years ago, a hidden annex littered with thoughts left just as they were on the day they were captured.
The unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat.
The eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that is usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet.
A school hallway in the evening, an unlit office on a weekend, vacant fairgrounds - an emotional afterimage that makes it seem not just empty but hyper-empty, with a total population in the negative, who are so conspicuously absent they glow like neon signs.
The inexplicable urge to push people away, even close friends who you really like.
A hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.
The amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm. Listening to waves of rain pattering against the roof like an argument upstairs, whose muffled words are unintelligible but whose crackling release of built-up tension you understand perfectly.
The frustration of photographic something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist.
A conversation in which everyone is talking, but nobody is listening.
A sadness that you'll never be able to know how history will turn out.
A state of exhaustion inspired by acts of senseless violence.
The desire to be struck by disaster – to survive a plane crash, or to lose everything in a fire.
The tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it - whether through envy or pity or simple foreignness, which allows it to drift away from the rest of your life story, until the memory itself feels out of place, almost mythical, wandering restlessly in the fog, no longer even looking for a place to land.
Frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone.
The feeling of returning home after an immersive trip only to find it fading rapidly from your awareness.
19. Nodus Tollens
The realization that the plot of your life doesn't make sense to you anymore.
The frustration of being stuck in just one body, that inhabits only one place at a time.
Imagine standing in front of the departures screen at an airport, flickering over with strange place names like other people's passwords, each representing one more thing you'll never get to see before you die - and all because, as the arrow on the map helpfully points out, you are here.
The desire to care less about things. To loosen your grip on your life, to stop glancing behind you every few steps, afraid that someone will snatch it from you before you reach the end zone - rather to hold your life loosely and playfully, like a volleyball, keeping it in the air, with only quick fleeting interventions, bouncing freely in the hands of trusted friends, always in play.
Weariness with the same old issues that you've always had – the same boring flaws and anxieties that you've been gnawing on for years.
The awareness of the smallness of your perspective.
A relationship or friendship that you can't get out of your head, which you thought had faded long ago but is still somehow alive and unfinished, like an abandoned campsite whose smoldering embers still have the power to start a forest fire.
Nostalgia for a time you've never known.
Imagine stepping through the frame into a sepia-tinted haze, where you could sit on the side of the road and watch the locals passing by. Who lived and died before any of us arrived here, who sleep in some of the same houses we do, who look up at the same moon, who breathe the same air, feel the same blood in their veins - and live in a completely different world.
See more at Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.
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