Count Me In On Sonder

by Nate McKenzie

I learned a new word this week. Sonder. My seventeen-year-old son sent me a link to a music video along with the text: this music video gives me incredible sonder.

The video, called Count Me Out, is from Centennial High School’s very own Kendrick Lamar, the man considered by at least one teenage rap fanatic to be the G.O.A.T. From his album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, the track features the ever-illustrious Helen Mirren. Kendrick’s musical art piece blossoms with introspection, empathy and something new... sonder. 

I looked the word up before I watched the video. I suggest you do the same.



Since 2012, John Koenig has been naming that which seemed unnamable. His project, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, seeks to attach words to human emotions that previously lack definition.

Sonder... derived from German, meaning “special”, and from French, meaning “to probe”.

Sonder: the realization that you are not the main character in this ensemble production which we call life.

It’s a new word contrived for an old emotion revived, one we used to be more keenly aware of, a feeling we actually used to give a DAMN. about. A word arrived from the ether, a perspective gained by conversations, the telling of stories, understanding of each other’s situations.

Empathy. Compassion. Altruism. 


“When I talk to kids, I’m really listening. When I do that, we have a little bit of a bigger connection than me being Kendrick Lamar and you being a student. It’s almost like we’re friends. Because a friend listens.”

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