It was a snipe hunt.
I didn’t realize it at the time.
In fact, I didn’t even realize he was searching for something.
I just saw them as simple transactions.
$40 for a shirt here.
$200 for a new phone there.
But he wasn’t looking for a new wardrobe or a new phone.
What he was looking for didn’t exist, at least not in material form.
But he didn’t realize that either.
He was on a snipe hunt for happiness.
I’m often questioned about my assertion that they were not obvious signs of my ex husband’s deceptions. There weren’t in the moment. But time has a way of revealing connections and indications, of washing away the clutter and revealing the patterns beneath.
And this is one of those cases.
My ex never expressed discontentment. He never claimed unhappiness or a lack of self-worth. Yet, when I look back, I can see that his patterns slowly changed over time. There was an insatiability that developed, an ever-growing need to fill a void. An endless search, each purchase seeming to send a message of position and power. It was subtle, at least until the end, but there was an energy to it. A drive. A need to be filled.
It was a snipe hunt for happiness. He was looking outside for something that can only come from within. He was distracted by the mythical beast he sought, ignoring the calls for help from within. He gathered possessions like a magpie enamoured of shiny objects, as though the gilded gadgets would reflect light back into his soul.
And that was a sign. Not only of his unhappiness, but also of his approach. He was a man who looked for the easy road. He would rather move houses to gain a greener pasture than water the one where he stood. He would rather discard a wife and a life where he made mistakes than to work to correct his errors and omissions. He was a man afraid of looking inward, preferring instead to focus on an imaginary hunt. He believed that solutions could be found if he only searched hard enough.
It was a sign. His snipe hunt for happiness.
And, like all snipe hunts, it was all pretend.
In this case, an act of a man desperate to find peace.
And he looked everywhere but where it could actually be found.
We can learn from him.
We all have a tendency to engage in snipe hunts for happiness – material goods, dating to distraction, food and alcohol. Learn your patterns. What are the early signs of your own snipe hunt for contentment? For peace? Recognize that you are searching for something that cannot be found in the outside world.
And look within.