Today’s trek into the world of the A-to-Z blogging challenge has us entering the crossroads into the land of X. I’m creating a manifesto of what I believe and what delights me based on unusual words.
Today’s word is plucked from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows – a beautiful, ever-growing compendium of invented words by John Koneig; each word tasked with giving name to an emotion we might all experience and yet don’t yet have a word for.
Let me introduce you to xeno.
Xeno: n. “the smallest measurable unit of human connection, typically exchanged between passing strangers—a flirtatious glance, a sympathetic nod, a shared laugh about some odd coincidence—moments that are fleeting and random but still contain powerful emotional nutrients that can alleviate the symptoms of feeling alone.”
Life in a crowded metropolitan area is a strange dance, particularly in crowded shared spaces such as elevators or on public transportation. People may be pressed together and yet they pretend they aren’t, carving out imaginary space boundaries and ignoring the fact that others are quite literally breathing down their necks.
And to be truthful in many ways I’m glad we’re able to do this. As a highly-sensitive extremely introverted person I find it very useful to be able to carry around my bubble of pretend impenetrable anonymity in many instances. But I can also truthfully say some of the most extraordinary moments of connection happen in fleeting moments of contact with strangers. It’s funny how I can remember catching people’s eyes and feeling like an electrical charge passes between us. I always think of it as being magical, even if I don’t quite understand it. These fleeting connections feel to me like something unnameable gets activated within me and/or the other person, and it matters not at all that we may never see each other again.
It rather amuses me that many of these special moments of xeno have happened for me on the subway and out and about on neighborhood sidewalks. The subway seems to me like a perfect analogy of the unconscious and these below-the-surface connections feel imbued with an extra layer of symbolism. Sidewalks represent things on the side – not main thoroughfares – and so again feel symbolic of out of things a bit off to the side of ordinary. Both perfect settings for connections with strangers that can remind us we’re not alone.
I relish those instances of xeno, wherein I can momentarily connect with strangers and share the most transitory sense of kinship. It doesn’t have to last for it to be a meaningful reminder that we are all connected.
What about you? Any xeno moments to share? Are you as big a fan of John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows as I am? Have a favorite x word? Do tell – you know I love to hear.