May 22nd 2016
Today I was at an airport (or two) as my Croatian holiday came to its end, and I began to sonder. (technically the word is a noun but I’ve used it as a verb, okay, thanks)
defn: the realisation that a passerby is living a life as complicated as your own.
I’ve spoken about this phenomenon before, but it’s particularly prevalent to airports. There were hundreds of people on my flight, thousands of people in the airport, and even more when we landed in Gatwick the other end. And every single one of those people has their own story. They all had their own reasons for being at the airport, all had their own determinations, and directions, and destinations. We saw a girl carrying a wedding dress. We saw a family each pushing a trolley with three suitcases for each of them. We saw a really old white guy with a stupidly attractive girl on his arm (not his daughter – vastly different skin tones)
All of these people have their own lives and paths and we were just temporarily intersecting with them. Our lines crossed just for a minute, just for long enough to give us a glimpse into their story, and then they were gone. And we were gone.
It’s especially prudent in an airport because there are so many people going to so many different places, for so many reasons. Hen parties. Families. Sports teams. Honeymooners. Amsterdam. Paris. New York. Bahamas. The world, people, everywhere.
On the drive home I carried on thinking about these lives I had momentarily stepped into – or, more specifically in the following case, driven past.
Every single time I drive on the motorway there are cars parked in the hard shoulder broken down. Every time. It’s not statistically unlikely considering the sheer volume of cars using motorways, but you’ll never journey on a motorway for very long without finding a broken down car. We saw loads today.
There was this couple with their pram, stood thirty yards behind their broken down people carrier, the boot was open and they were stood with their suitcases. I hope that they were on the way home after a holiday, and not on the way to one.
There was an older couple, sat down on the railings bordering the motorway. Too tired to stand. I hope they got home okay.
The electronic road signs told us “Caution: Accident Ahead”, and we sat through standstill traffic for twenty minutes before we passed half a car. The entire front of the car had crumpled into itself. I so hope the driver survived.
I notice these things, and I think about these things, and then they’re gone. Because human beings are inherently selfish, and if something does not personally impact our lives then why bother worrying about it, right? And I’m only human, right?
And every day I cross the path of other humans, going about their human lives, with their human (hopefully) wives. And it blows my mind to think about all the stories I walk past. All the personalities that I drive past. Seven billion people on this planet and I can only name like fifty of them – and half of those are footballers.
Until tomorrow, seven billion stories, and I don’t know any of them.