Where’s Waldo was a game launched in the late 80’s. It was simple but fascinating: just find the Waldo cartoon character wherever he was hidden on the page.
I remembered this recently whenI was daydreaming about the relationship between the Observer Effect and confirmation bias. The Observer Effect is loosely described as our tendency to influence what we are looking at. For instance, light is necessary to see but the presence of light affects what we look at. So, we only, ever, see things the way the way they behave when we are looking at them.
Confirmation bias is equally perplexing to anyone who believes we live in an objective world. Wiki defines it as “… the tendency to search for, interpret, favor and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one’s prior beliefs or values.” For instance, when you begin shopping for a certain kind of car you start seeing that model everywhere. Your priority is determining what you see. I call this the Subaru Effect.
Add the Observer Effect and theSubaru Effect together, choose a spiritual focus, and we suddenly have an actionable formula for enlightenment: choose to see God.
Where is God? Imagine playing the Finding Waldo game but substituting God. Given how loaded that word is, I’ve chosen the name Mary. It comes from the Hebrew name Miriam, which means beloved, is associated with a Biblical term -“first believer” - and the poet Byron called it a magic name. It’s also who Paul McCartney sings about in Let it Be. Works for me.
I’ve begun looking for Mary. And, guess what: I’m finding Her everywhere! The easiest locations are nature, friends, music and art. The most difficult? Politics, news, and evil people.
This game offers a stark contrast to our habit of looking for problems. The daily news, for instance, is almost entirely negative, offering tantalizing targets to judge and complain about. That may be familiar, but is it enjoyable? I guess, if we believe the adage that misery loves company. Well, we can change that story any time we wish.
Something wonderful ishappening. That’s how I began my book, Now or Never. It’s how I begin my noon mini-meditation every day. And it’s how I feel when I make finding Mary mypriority.
You might enjoy playing this game too. Just pick your name for God and happy hunting!
Next week: Part Four – If This is Tuesday it Must be Hitler.