Only That Which is Essential


"Il est très simple: on ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Le Petit Prince

On a quest to fill his emptiness, the Little Prince voyages to distant lands, mingles with great men, and encounters new experiences. The more he sees and learns, however, the larger his emptiness grows. Toward the end of his travels, the Little Prince has a revelation: he had known all along that which was precious to him. In fact, he had never needed to search for something to value and cherish, for it had been right before his eyes. 

The Little Prince's journey is an allegory of man's lifelong search for meaning. At a certain point in his life, The Little Prince has the essential: his home, the love of his life, and his purpose. But he turns away from the essential in pursuit of more - something out there, something unknown and just out of reach. Similarly, many of us wander through life searching for more: more recognition, more excitement, more money. By pursuing more, we think we are pursuing lasting fulfillment; but we become caught up in a never-ending quest for more, and nothing is ever enough. Or, we become fixated on what others claim will bring us satisfaction. We lose sight of what we are looking for, and why.

Sooner or later, we realize what matters most to us - what is essential to our happiness, and who we are at the very core of our being. Unfortunately, like the Little Prince, the majority of us either realizes this truth too late, or finds that what we had cherished has already faded away.

I'm not advocating that we should want nothing more than we already have. We should all want more; but we should want more of only that which is essential to us. What matters most to you, and why? Do you have what matters most to you? If not, how can you attain it?

If you're not sure what is absolutely important to you and who you are, I challenge you to look within yourself. The essential things are seen not with the eyes, but with the heart. 

"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."  - Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince