What Is Essential?


“And now here is my secret, a very important secret: it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

I love this quote from “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and not just for its seamless use of a colon and semicolon in one sentence.

The novel was only published posthumously in the author’s native France in 1943 as it was banned by the Vichy regime. After going through a war, one learns what is “essential.”

Looking back, there were so many prescient characters and observations. The Prince visits six planets, including one where there is a narcissistic man who only wants the praise which comes from admiration and being the most-admirable person on his otherwise uninhabited planet. There is another where a railway switchman told him how people on the train rushed from one place to another, never satisfied with where they were and it was only the children that looked out the windows.

In the new world order, as people’s lives become narrower and more focused, and where sickness or the loss of life is a tangible possibility, what actually is essential?

Fresh air and sunlight.

Music which caresses your soul.

Supporting your immune system.

Candlelight, because it is soothing and flattering and no one gives two hoots about your artificial beauty enhancements you had to give up anyway. You are gorgeous just as you are.

A good book. Send a message of gratitude because writers, especially freelancers, don’t have a lobbyist in Washington, DC to ensure them a place in the relief package (and if there is one please let me know!)

Emotional honesty. Because all this together time will lead you to a closer connection or there will be a lot of divorces when this shut down is over.

Finding a deep soul connection to solitude. I want to commend the creative Instagrammers like Arthur Golabek, who does the most beautiful creations for dinner for one.

Connect with those who nourish you. A gorgeous bouquet from Sag Harbor Florist, who will deliver, and amazing healthy and indulgent food from Janet O’Brien, whose Southampton shop is there to serve and can get it to you. Chef Matty Boudreau of Green Hill Kitchen, who is expanding not just his famous BBQ but all sorts of essentials to your door. The stranger at the dump who greets you with a genuine “Good morning. How are you doing?” The friend who contacts you out of the blue just to say, “I know we don’t talk often but I am thinking of you.”

Pausing to ask yourself: If I am going to utter a statement, and I never know when it will be my last, have I said something kind and positive and reflective of my true nature? Seriously, what if the most recent Facebook post was your last. Would you be proud? Does it reflect your best self?

Gratitude. There will always be someone in a better position than you and someone in a worse position than you. Be grateful for what you can enjoy in this moment. Do not hesitate to both reach out for help and also offer it.

In the end, this is not about material things. It is about more carefully and acutely defining who you are as a human being on a very troubled planet Earth.

What is essential? And what if you can’t see it with your eyes?

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