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‘The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows’ Puts Language to the Many Shades of Human Sadness

In an obscure Tumblr blog in an obscure corner of the internet, there sits as strange and sad a dictionary as any I've ever heard of. John Koenig's "Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows" is dedicated to invented words that capture the thousand fleeting gradients of emotion that most of us do not have language to express, but that all of us have felt.

Words like "lachesism, (n. the desire to be struck by disaster—to survive a plane crash, to lose everything in a fire, to plunge over a waterfall—which would put a kink in the smooth arc of your life, and forge it into something hardened and flexible and sharp, not just a stiff prefabricated beam that barely covers the gap between one end of your life and the other.)," "catoptric tristesse, (n. the sadness that you'll never really know what other people think of you, whether good, bad, or if at all ...)," and "sonder," (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.)"

Possible Preaching Angle:

They're vivid and human, but think of this—the God who made us and our ability to feel, felt the entire range of human experience himself, incarnated in Jesus. He can put ultimate expression to the human experience. He knows us—and every one of our obscure sorrows—because he became one of us.

Editor’s Note: A book is coming soon from Simon & Schuster (12-22-20)

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