Voici mon secret. Il est très simple: on ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.
“Here is my secret. It is very simple. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is important is invisible to the eye.”
(from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry)
In The Little Prince there is a story that goes like this. At the age of six the protagonist, after seeing a picture of a boa constrictor swallowing an animal in a book, draws “Drawing Number One”:
He showed it to adults and asked if the drawing frightened them. They replied: “Why should any one be frightened by a hat?”
Drawing Number One was not a drawing of a hat, but a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. However, adults could not understand the true meaning of the drawing. So the protagonist drew Drawing Number Two which showed the elephant inside the boa constrictor. The adults advised him to put aside drawings of things like boa constrictors and elephants that could not be seen and instead take interest in geography, history, arithmetic and grammar. That is why he gave up his dream of becoming an artist.
Even after growing up and becoming a pilot, he sometimes showed people Drawing Number One and asked what they saw. But they only saw the hat, never the elephant or the boa constrictor. Unlike when he was young, he did not try to explain the true meaning of the drawing and instead brought up “adult topics” like golf and politics.
Money, status, beauty… Things that can be seen can fool you just as an optical illusion does. Things that are invisible such as the mind, creativity, understanding and love are the only things that can truly bring you satisfaction. So how can we look for things that we cannot see? We can infer that the wind blows from the rustling of leaves. If the leaves are not rustling, it means the wind is not blowing. To find like-minded people, a “password” needs to be used, just as we used leaves to find wind.
The Encyclopaedia of Absolute and Relative Knowledge is like a “password” to me, just like Drawing Number One was for the protagonist of The Little Prince. It is something that can be used to see if the other person shares my way of thinking and beliefs. Whether it be a book, a picture or a quote, such a password that represents you as a whole can be very useful in finding a true companion. If they ask you why you write such a thing, what the meaning of the picture is or why you respect the quote, then they are not the one you were looking for. The person you are desperately looking for will never ask “why” but instead respond with honest curiosity. Yes, the correct answer to the password is an expression of childlike curiosity. Upon seeing that person’s pure smile, you will know: that that person can decode your password, that they understand you, that they will accept your everything. That person is the one you have been looking for to accompany you for the rest of your life.