Olēka: The Awareness of How Few Days Are Memorable

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Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

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Shared January 4, 2015

Another day, another week, another year. We've heard this song before. Our lives are built of the same few notes, repeated over and over. It’s not a grand symphony, full of surprises. It’s a song sung in canon, that simply carries on, until the tune gets stuck in your head. But then the verse changes over, and for the life of you, you can’t remember how it's supposed to go.

THE DICTIONARY OF OBSCURE SORROWS http://www.dictionaryofobscuresorrows...
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of invented words written by John Koenig. Each original definition aims to fill a hole in the language—to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a word for. Follow the project, give feedback, suggest an emotion you need a word for, or just tell me about your day.

Email the author: obscuresorrows@gmail.com
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Di...
Twitter @ObscureSorrows https://twitter.com/obscuresorrows

From Greek apololeka, "losing." (Thanks to reader Christos Frantzolas)

TRANSCRIPT: "Your life is a highlight reel: a gradual search for a handful of memories. We like to think that every moment has potential, that there’s something transcendent hidden all around, that if you’d only stop to seize the day, you could hold onto it and carry it with you. But the truth is, most of life is forgotten instantly, almost as it’s happening. Chances are that even a day like today will slip through your fingers and dissolve into oblivion, washed clean by the tides.

Such is the rhythm of ordinary time: the featureless stretches between one memory and the next, the thousand acts of maintenance you do every day. You keep your body going, hauling it back and forth from one place to the next. You breathe in and out. Things fall apart, you clean up the mess. And it all washes away in the night, to be built up again in the morning. You throw the week against the wall to see what sticks, hoping you will remember something that happened today, anything.

Most of our lives are spent in the hinterlands, the empty stretches we fly over to get to the good parts. And you wonder how you could spend so much time just pushing back against the current, trying to keep your small boat afloat, watching for a glimmer on the horizon, waiting for those moments when you can finally say, eureka! “I’ve found it!”

But it’s all happening—it’s all real—whether you’ll remember it or not. So you might as well say ol?ka!—"I've lost it!"—as if to mark the passage of yet another opportunity, flushed down the hourglass. A final toast to the endless forgotten days, whose humble labor has given you everything you have, at least for the moment.

As the song says: long live the high tide and long live the low, but above all, long live the difference."

Zoe Shamowie

And yet you will remember embarrassing mistakes from middle school with crystal clarity

5 years ago | [YT] | 420

NowThis World

"Gradual search for a handful of memories." Love that, we just have to make the few memories great ones! 

6 years ago | [YT] | 40


Carrying a brick is not memorable.

But seeing the walls of your house grow over time is.

5 years ago | [YT] | 217

Fahimul Huq

Someone somewhere once said, and my parents never forget to remind me every chance they get, that humans are a creature of habit. We do the same things over and over; wake up in the same bed, eat the same thing for breakfast, do the same job. There are only minor differences between today and some other day that happened a lifetime ago. Everything we do is so ordinary...... but only because its us doing it, and because we've done it a million times before. It doesn't mean it's not memorable, it just means that because of the rules we've built for ourselves (and the restrictions of time and a bunch of other things) one person can only witness so much.

If I were to live your life for a day, and you were to live mine, I'm sure a relatively mundane day can become something out of the ordinary. Simply because the things I do, and the things you do are so vastly and fundamentally different, and the lives we lead are so markedly dissimilar. For example, climbing onto the roof of a moving bus, and sitting there is probably something you'd find memorable, but I find mundane, because I'm ised to it and you're not. Getting internet sped decent enough to stream this video is something I'd find memorable, because that never happens to me, but heck, most of you lot are already have that, and you don't seem to be going out of your minds celebrating.

Sorry for blabbering on and on. My point was, we do the same things we do. And we get used to it. If we could see the world from someone else's eyes, even just for a day, we'd probably rediscover the wonder that we've taken for granted; noticing the little things that we have that make it worthwhile.

Or maybe I'm overanalysing. The Arabic word for "human" is "insân"l which comes from the roots words "nisyân", meaning "to forget"; and  "unsiyah", meaning "to relate, to love-be loved, to become close to somebody, to get or give a reaction"; and maybe that's all there is to life, and we're just overanalysing. Because we want it to mean something more.

6 years ago | [YT] | 203


what about a word for when you know in advance that a youtube video will be totally depressing but you also know you'll still watch it ?

5 years ago | [YT] | 199


what about the desire to be in a fictional story that is far different from the day to day reality, and the realization that you never will be.

6 years ago | [YT] | 68

Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

ETYMOLOGY: Unknown. I worked out the etymology a couple years ago when I started writing this definition, and though I know I was working with Greek, for the life of me I can't remember what my rationale was. Which is perfect for this particular definition: it must have happened, but I've forgotten it completely.

6 years ago | [YT] | 163


Thanks, I didn't want to be happy today anyway.

6 years ago | [YT] | 85

Isaac Ren

"washed clean by the tides"! You did not just do that pun.

6 years ago | [YT] | 63

Layal Watfeh

Your channel is the inner voice of many of us... The voice that we never dare to let out... Thank you

6 years ago | [YT] | 20

Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

The final line is from Nada Surf's beatiful song "Là Pour Ça." In the original French, the lyrics are:
La mer connait pas le fil du temps
qui nous rapproche et nous sépare.
Vive la marée haute et vive la basse,
mais surtout vive la différence.

6 years ago | [YT] | 60

Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

From "Keeping Our Small Boat Afloat" by Robert Bly:
"It's hard to grasp how much generosity
Is involved in letting us go on breathing,
When we contribute nothing valuable but our grief.

Each of us deserves to be forgiven, if only for
Our persistence in keeping our small boat afloat
When so many have gone down in the storm."

6 years ago | [YT] | 154

Bryan Winter

This kind of hurt my soul.

I fancy myself an amateur writer but i'm amazed by word play here. Good writing is about saying alot with a little. The music and images help ... but wow. There is a qoute this makes me thing of.

Limited in his nature, infinite in his desire, man is a fallen god who remembers heaven.
~ Alphonse de Lamartine

Our intelligence is cruel. Because we are powerful only in intelligence, but weak in basically everything else. 

6 years ago | [YT] | 26

Ane Emelia sings

I have too many fears, thanks to this channel haha xD

6 years ago | [YT] | 56

Christopher Sanderson

My experience with this video is first depression from realizing how uneventful the majority of my life is, to later inspiration for changing my life to where I'm accomplishing more.

5 years ago | [YT] | 11

Emily Burd

This is what depresses me. It seems as if everything is for nothing.

5 years ago | [YT] | 21


Welcome to all the VSaucers that are finding this channel for the first time. Godspeed.

3 months ago | [YT] | 14


The eeriest part of this is finding it again years later and not remembering the video, only that you watched it.

2 years ago | [YT] | 4

Eric Alvaro

Hi, John, I translated your video to Portuguese, here's the subtitle:

00:00:00,865 --> 00:00:05,824
Oleka: O Medo de Que Você
Esteja Desperdiçando a Vida

00:00:06,765 --> 00:00:10,451
A sua vida são as poucas coisas que você
se lembra depois de uma noite de resseca.

00:00:10,486 --> 00:00:13,321
Uma busca gradual por
um bocado de memórias.

00:00:13,784 --> 00:00:17,319
Nós gostamos de pensar que
todo momento tem potencial,

00:00:17,354 --> 00:00:20,263
que há algo transcendental
escondido por toda a parte.

00:00:20,298 --> 00:00:22,695
Que se você apenas parar
para aproveitar o dia,

00:00:22,730 --> 00:00:25,423
você vai se agarrar a tal
potencial e carregá-lo com você.

00:00:27,701 --> 00:00:31,068
Mas a verdade é que a maioria da
vida é esquecida instantemente,

00:00:31,103 --> 00:00:33,037
quase no exato momento
em que está acontecendo.

00:00:34,309 --> 00:00:36,188
As chances são de que
até mesmo um dia como este

00:00:36,639 --> 00:00:39,449
vai escorregar pelos seus dedos,
e se dissolver na escuridão

00:00:40,167 --> 00:00:42,687
limpo pela maré.

00:00:43,623 --> 00:00:46,186
O trabalho de manter seu corpo vivo.

00:00:46,402 --> 00:00:49,975
De arrastá-lo para frente e
para trás pela mesma estrada,

00:00:50,010 --> 00:00:52,657
não mais próxima do que
estava no dia anterior.

00:00:54,734 --> 00:00:56,576
Você continua respirando e expirando.

00:00:57,904 --> 00:01:00,799
As coisas desmoronam,
você limpa a bagunça.

00:01:03,233 --> 00:01:05,505
E tudo é posto para lavar de noite,

00:01:05,540 --> 00:01:07,355
para recomeçar na manhã seguinte.

00:01:09,048 --> 00:01:12,287
Você continua jogando a semana contra
a parede, para ver o que permanece.

00:01:12,825 --> 00:01:15,435
Esperando que você vá se lembrar
de algo que aconteceu hoje,

00:01:15,470 --> 00:01:17,211
qualquer coisa.

00:01:19,053 --> 00:01:22,515
Você começa a imaginar se
está desperdiçando sua vida.

00:01:22,731 --> 00:01:26,275
Gastando tanta energia só pra
continuar indo contra a corrente,

00:01:26,939 --> 00:01:28,795
para manter seu pequeno barco flutuando.

00:01:29,659 --> 00:01:32,892
Até que você possa finalmente dizer:
“Eureca, eu achei.”

00:01:36,042 --> 00:01:38,494
Mas o resto da vida está
acontecendo de qualquer maneira,

00:01:38,529 --> 00:01:40,467
quer você se lembre ou não.

00:01:41,360 --> 00:01:44,467
Você pode muito bem dizer:
“Eureca, eu perdi.”

00:01:44,876 --> 00:01:48,225
Como se fosse marcar a passagem
de mais uma outra oportunidade

00:01:48,260 --> 00:01:50,041
caida da ampulheta.

00:01:50,249 --> 00:01:52,994
Um brinde final aos
incontáveis dias esquecidos,

00:01:53,305 --> 00:01:55,898
aos quais o humilde trabalho
lhes deu tudo que você tem,

00:01:56,146 --> 00:01:57,746
pelo menos até o momento.

00:01:58,734 --> 00:02:00,410
Como a canção diz:

00:02:01,210 --> 00:02:03,894
“Viva a maré alta e viva maré baixa,

00:02:04,426 --> 00:02:05,964
mas acima de tudo,

00:02:05,999 --> 00:02:07,502
viva as diferenças.”

6 years ago | [YT] | 27

Rafi Raihan

I use the same soap as you.

6 years ago | [YT] | 13