Some books you seek out, and some books find you… especially those with hard covers and sharp edges… and it’s precisely that edge that drops onto your foot.
With a grumble (okay, a rather colorful swear word) I picked up the little book.
“The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
A book I had last read 15 years ago, as a youngster.
Of course, it’s a classical work that’s always relevant. However, unlike some other books, I never felt the urge to revisit it during my growing years. I remembered the plot, the simple writing style, and I understood the story’s point.
…but did I really get the point?
As someone who loves reading, I easily connect with book characters, imagine the world the author has created, and drift away. I embark on an adventure.
“The Little Prince” is a work that has touched and deeply impacted people for decades.
This time, I decided to take a different approach.
I decided to read the book as an adult, devoid of emotional influence. To truly understand what this work is about and what makes it special. Yes, I know, I behaved like a real jerk. 🤣
I read it quickly.
When I closed the book, I was perplexed. Thoughtful.
At first, I didn’t even realize I had a wistful smile on my face. No, I didn’t *sniff* cry…
Only now, as a mature adult, have I better understood this “children’s” book.
This is a book about life. It’s about us humans and how we’ve let others dictate what’s logical and what’s not, what’s mature and what isn’t…
“The Little Prince” is full of symbolism and open to various interpretations. I didn’t want to scour the internet for others’ interpretations. I wanted to deduce myself what the underlying motifs of this book meant to me.
I’ve noticed when you ask (adult) people when they were happiest, the answer is often, “When I was a child.” For many, there’s an added phrase: “and when I had my own child.”
We all have our “Little Prince.” It’s that child within us, which most of us have forgotten because we’ve “grown up” in the meantime.
The Little Prince tries to remind us of the pure, childlike aspect within us. Seeing people with our heart, not just our eyes. Today, we judge people solely based on what we see/hear. If someone is attractive, wealthy, successful, in a strong position, from a good family (in other words, loaded with money), we like them. But when was the last time you heard someone ask about another: “Do they laugh a lot when watching comedies? Do they enjoy watching the sunset? Do they love animals? How are they with friends? Do they like to dance?” (“I can’t believe you wrote this, man” – note from my subconscious). The Little Prince clearly tells us that this is how we can truly get to know someone.
We always smile at children’s curiosity, originality, and bright outlook on life. We admire the clarity of their thoughts and creativity. We all look kindly upon such behavior.
But what if an adult behaved that way? We’d find it odd and think of them as lost. Why would someone act like that? We have instructions on how to think, orders on how to work, rules on how to behave. No one wants to look kindly upon someone who doesn’t conform. Such a person is “weird”. The reason is, of course, “obvious”. They don’t want to follow rules, they want to think for themselves, they don’t want their brainwashed, they don’t want to live in the “Dead Sea” like everyone else; they want to make “waves”. We don’t exactly look kindly upon their clarity and creativity.
The Little Prince noticed this on his travels too. The people he met, we’ve met them too. Think you haven’t? I know I have, despite being relatively young.
The King – thinks he’s powerful, expects everyone to bow to him, obsessed with his reputation, and clueless about the people around him.
The Conceited Man – Arrogant, selfish, attention-seeking, unintelligent, and hollow.
The Drunkard – Weak, unable to face life’s challenges, seeking “solutions” in the wrong places.
The Businessman – Obsessed with accumulating wealth, but too busy doing so to enjoy it.
The Lamplighter – The hapless, weary man who must blindly follow orders (no matter how illogical or outdated) just to survive.
The Geographer – Wants others to provide dry facts, not interested in genuine values.
The tales that struck me most were the one about the baobabs and the encounters with the Rose and the Fox.
The story about baobabs is among the best things you can read about discipline and positive thinking…
“Indeed, on the Little Prince’s planet, as on all other planets, there were noble plants and weeds. Consequently, there were seeds of noble plants and seeds of weeds. However, seeds are invisible. They sleep hidden in the earth until one day they decide to awaken. Then, they stretch out and first timidly reach towards the sun with a magical, innocuous little shoot. If it’s a shoot of a radish or a rose, we can freely let it grow. However, if it’s a weed, we must pull it out as soon as we recognize it. On the Little Prince’s planet, there were terrible seeds… they were baobab seeds. The soil of his planet was full of them.
If we do not pull out a baobab on time, we can never get rid of it. It inundates the entire planet. It tears it apart with its roots. And if the planet is very small, and there are numerous baobabs, it will shatter.
“It’s a matter of order,” the Little Prince told me later on. “Once a man finishes his morning grooming, he should carefully tend to his planet. A person must be made to regularly maintain baobabs, as soon as they start to be distinguishable from roses, which they very much resemble when they are very young. It’s a very tedious job, but very easy.”
… and now replace the words “baobab” and “weed” with “negative, pessimistic thought”. Hm? This paragraph now takes on a whole new dimension, doesn’t it?
Meeting the Rose will teach you that love will fulfill you when you become more honest with both yourself and others, when you dare to let down that invulnerability guard you’ve raised towards everyone. If you wait too long, you might “lose grip” on someone you truly love.
The Fox is a lesson about loyalty, love, and genuine friends. About dedicating time to loved ones and “taming” them, i.e., being patient with them. Not about having 500-1000 “friends” on Facebook whom you know nothing about, right? How many such “friends” have you tried to “tame” and get to know? Among them, do you have your “foxes” or are they just “contacts”?
Now, who is actually the “Little Prince”? And did his story end as it did? I don’t believe so. He appeared with a mission. To open the eyes of a bitter man, to reconnect him with the child within, and to remind him of true values. Whether he is God, a guardian angel, subconscious, or something else, it doesn’t matter. The lesson he wanted to give us is crucial. It’s about not viewing life and people rigidly or narrowly, but trying to understand them.
Of course, you shouldn’t transform into a fool, go mad, and start behaving like a small child in everything. It will be enough to simply unlock that room where you’ve unjustly locked away your childlike side.
I can’t help but wonder. Are those people who are wealthy, successful, calm, spiritually and emotionally fulfilled, who change the world with their actions and seem so unattainable to us, perhaps those who have managed to find a balance between the adult and their inner Little Prince?
Want to know what kind of person you are? Here’s a simple test:
What do you see in this picture? Now, think outside the box… that’s where the magic begins. 🙂
Question for you: Have you, by chance, met your Little Prince and did he teach you anything?
(Originally reviewed: 17/12/2017)