watashiato – n. curiosity about the impact you’ve had on the lives of the people you know, wondering which of your harmless actions or long-forgotten words might have altered the plot of their stories in ways you’ll never get to see.
I found this word in the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, which is excerpted at this site. This book includes new words that describe emotions in great depth. One of the descriptions was the word above, watashiato. Of the few dozen I read, this was the one that stood out to me, and it’s something I’ve experienced. Maybe more than just being curious, though.
As someone that does a lot of writing and speaking, I know that my words and actions have an impact on others. I’ve had many people write to me or tell me in person that I’ve affected them. Usually, this is very positive, and I’m grateful for the kind words. I am proud and happy for the positive impacts I’ve had in people’s lives.
However, I know I must have had negative impacts. I’m sure I’ve written or said something incorrect that upset someone, or messed up their day at work, or perhaps caused an outage and they had to work late. I hope I haven’t gotten anyone terminated, or even chastised from management for something they learned at SQL Server Central, but I don’t know. I try not to dwell on this, but at times I think about whether or not I’ve changed someone’s life for the worse.
I might have treated someone poorly. I know I did early in my 20s, as an arrogant young man, but I’m sure I’ve done things that meant nothing to me but affected others. Perhaps even deeply.
My life has gone well, my career is a success, and I am grateful for that. I try to appreciate the small moments in life, and embrace dés vu (the awareness that this moment will become a memory). My wife had trumspringa and made it come true, leaving her corporate job to train horses. I’ve watched others do the same thing.
These days my goal is to live my life in a way that makes the world better. I work, I need a paycheck, but I try not to be driven by that. I appreciate time with loved ones and experiences. I appreciate the conversations, the handshakes, and the hugs. I look to enjoy the laughter with others and the hard times, appreciating them as a part of life. I try to leave the world a little better than I found it, and hopefully, lessen the chances of future sorrowful watashiato.
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