Monday, May 19, 2014

To Tame

I will dedicate this book to the child from this grown-up grew. all grownups were once children-although few of them remember it.
-Antoine de Saint Exupery

Due to the popularity of our Little Free Library, we built a second book box just for kids. The concept is to “take a book, leave a book.” Generous neighbors leave more than they take and occasionally, I have to clean ours out. Yesterday, I happened across a first edition copy of “The Little Prince” written by Antoine de Saint Exupery in the children’s box. Written in 1943, this story is a surreal parable about the truth we know as children and all the different ways we adults forget.

Grown-ups love figures…When you tell them you’ve made a new friend, they never ask you questions about essential matters. They never say to you, ‘What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?

Saint Exupery narrates from the perspective of a pilot whose plane crashes in a remote African desert and stumbles upon a prince from another planet. The story is borrowed from life experience. The French poet and journalist really did crash a plane in the African desert, hallucinated and nearly died of dehydration. The childlike prince from another planet character resembles the author’s beloved brother who died as a teen.

Much has been written about the influence of war and lost love on the story. But to me, it was the lessons the little prince shared with the pilot about his journey that were the most profound. During the prince’s intergalactic travels, he came across a king who wanted to rule him, a conceited man who needed his admiration, a businessman who wanted to own everything (including the stars), an alcoholic who wanted to drown his shame, a worker who simply took orders and a scholar who wrote about things he never saw for himself.

‘The grown ups are certainly very odd,’ he said to himself as he continued on his journey.

Finally, on his visit to Earth, the prince came across a wise fox who shared with him the secret of life, which lies in friendship, establishing ties or in the fox’s words “to tame” one another.  The prince eventually shared this secret with the stranded pilot.

The book was left in the children’s box. Clearly, a mistake. Kids don’t need a parable to understand that “the most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.”

Who will you tame today?

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