Have you ever tried to see a star in the sky and discovered that you can only see it when you shift your gaze away from it? This phenomenon is known as ‘averted vision’. I think it serves as a useful metaphor for what happens when we try to see clearly those things that consistently escape our direct focus. I’m referring to those intangible pursuits in life, like the search for happiness, the quest for meaning and purpose and the answer to the question ‘Why am I here?’

Much like the faint star that evades direct sight, certain aspects of our lives become elusive the more intently we focus on them. The harder we try to pin these down, the more they seem to slip away from our grasp. In our determination, or perhaps desperation to find clarity, we can inadvertently blind ourselves to the very thing we’re looking for. Think of all the times you experienced moments of pure happiness in your life. Were you actively seeking it or did happiness settle upon you?  Life’s profound truths and moments of joy may shine in the periphery of our lives, providing illumination in their own unique and subtle way.

I’m reminded of a story from ‘Winnie the Pooh’. On one occasion when Pooh went to visit Piglet, he found he wasn’t at home, “to his surprise he saw that the door was open, and the more he looked inside, the more Piglet wasn’t there”. Have you ever felt that what you are seeking becomes increasingly elusive the more you pursue it? Maybe the paradox is that when we intensify our efforts, we would be better off to redirect our focus to something less direct yet related. 

Perhaps there are things we are not meant to chase because when we stop searching so hard and look around, what we seek can find us instead.

A SEMblance of thoughts – these are my musings on topics, themes and questions that occur during my participation on the MA of Spirituality, Ecology & Mental Health at Buckinghamshire New University, High Wycombe, UK. I appreciate any (polite!) views you might wish to share.

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