I encountered this word for the first time after reading the book Little Prince. It was the fox who said “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” I looked it up in my hardy Merriam-Webster dictionary “es·sen·tial i-ˈsen(t)-shəl: of, relating to, or constituting essence : INHERENT: of the utmost importance: BASIC, INDISPENSABLE, NECESSARY.
But what is essential that’s “invisible to the eye”? When you’re an angst-ridden teenager, anything and everything could be a source of agitation, irritation, demoralization, even suicide ideation. Teenagers are such tragic characters. journals are smeared with blood that dripped from shallow bladed slashes on the pale side of the arm where nerves are more sensitive; “not killing myself mom; just manifesting internal turmoil.”
And so “essential” became my safe word. There have been varying interpretations of what this quote meant. I took it to mean: Not everything is important.
I gave the book to my son when he was going through a difficult time. He said he loved it. And yet I wonder if it helped him discern what “matters of consequence” truly are.