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.
This is wonderful, Deborah. I love xeno moments. I have always called them brief encounters. I like xeno better. I have so many that I can remember. Some have been moments that had to have come as a sign from a Higher Power. Some, just fun – like once at a stop light, I was singing with a song on the radio – rocking out, really. Self consciously, I looked over to the car next to me and a woman was rocking out to the same song. She turned her head toward me and we laughed and sort of sang it together, and the light changed.
I love how you said about the subways being a” perfect analogy of the unconscious and these below-the-surface connections feel imbued with an extra layer of symbolism.”
I also find that people say random things that just happened to be the answer to some question I have been mulling over.
Oh Mary – I LOVE that singing story – how delightful! It really makes my heart smile. And those moments when others randomly provide an answer we’re looking for always blow me away. Perfect examples of cosmic winks in my book.
Those xeno moments are so special – I was thinking back while on my afternoon walk of moments of synchronicity I experienced recently while away in the bush. Xeno may not be the same thing but those moments are charged with an other energy, and reminds me of connections, everywhere. Thank you Deborah, this is a lovely post!
Indeed Susan. There’s such magic in those connections and realizations. And I must say I’m enjoying the bits you’re sharing about your trip!
Yes! Xeno moments happen for me a lot at the concerts I attend, sharing those experiences with perfect strangers. Another great word.
Oh yes Janet – that’s the perfect opportunity for those kinds of moments to happen.
Xeno, anytime you can make a connection, even with just a smile, a nod, or knowing look, life feels so much fuller! Doctors waiting rooms are the worst and sometimes the best. 🙂
Oh yeah Yolanda – doctors waiting rooms!
What an interesting perspective. Being an “un-introvert” I can see a new viewpoint from your writing about your experience and Xeno. I do have problems understanding the workings of the discreet and private minds – since I’m an “all out there” sort of girl, so your post is a glimpse into this mysterious world. But, whether we are introverts or extroverts, I think we all feel that cord the binds humanity and gives us kinship to others as our lives brush against one another. It is spectacular to be human. Thank you for giving me such food for thought, Deborah.
I, too, am fascinated by how we each navigate our worlds so differently Michelle. But I certainly believe as you do that we all feel the cords that connect us in kinship and unity. And I most definitely believe that life is indeed spectacular.
I could have sworn I commented on this! Ah well! It’s a lovely word, Deborah!
It is isn’t it? Thanks for stopping by Amy
I have been experiencing this on my daily walks lately. It’s funny because sometimes through a quick glance or smile there does seem to be an exchange of electric energy. SO interesting to find the word for it. Thank you!
It’s pretty amazing isn’t it?!