Where is Waldo? In 1987, Martin Handford published a book entitled “Where’s Waldo?” Ever since its publication, many have been driven to find the red-and-white striped character buried in incredibly detailed illustrations. Once one begins searching for Waldo it is almost impossible to stop. At first, we want to find him just for the sake of finding him or for the entertainment. But before long, we come to find that the search is important and vital. The longing to find him becomes one of an almost primitive nature. This desire has a deeper meaning, one that has captivated humans since the beginning of time. The search for Waldo becomes metaphorically the search for meaning in this enormous universe.
Waldo represents the wants and needs for which we are constantly searching; he represents our search for meaning in life. In a huge crowd of people, we are required to find Waldo, just like in our lives we are crowded by people, money, entertainment, and school or work. But what really matters in life is worth searching through the chaos for. Waldo is wherever our deepest desires lie. Waldo is always placed in scenes that have a chaotic nature, representing our own lives. To find what we really desire, we must ignore the chaos and focus upon what we are really passionate about and what we truly care about. Gandhi said, “In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.”
The search for Waldo began when ancient philosophers and sages questioned whether life was more than survival, whether we were put here for a purpose by a supreme being or if we are merely a miracle of nature. These questions have mesmerized some of the brightest men and women throughout history. Finding meaning, like finding Waldo, is a mystery. And as Albert Einstein said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”
Handford has captured that mystery in the search for Waldo. His illustrations help us recognize that finding meaning is fleeting. Once Waldo is found on the page, one moves onto the next picture to continue the hunt; the search for Waldo is never-ending, a metaphor for the search for the meaning of life. It is a mystery that will continue to befuddle the greatest minds until the end of time. So, where is Waldo? Waldo resides in the deepest desires of our hearts and minds; he is the question that will remain unanswered. Waldo is like the search for meaning. We catch a glimpse and then it’s gone. Like the meaning of life, there is only one Waldo, but we find him in many forms.
In the words of Eckhart Tolle, “When I occasionally quote the words of Jesus or the Buddha, from A Course in Miracles or from other teachings, I do so not in order to compare, but to draw your attention to the fact that in essence there is and always has been only one spiritual teaching, although it comes in many forms.”