“What is essential is invisible to the eye.” – Antoine de Saint Exupery- The Little Prince
During the holidays, romance seems heightened. There is a mysterious desire to connect that is aroused by the cool crisp air, the warmth of the hearth, the hospitality of the season…It is an enchantment, indeed. But for so many, it can become a source of disappointment and longing for dreams deferred. This season, in particular, can become a time of great depression for some.
I recently stumbled upon my used copy of “The Little Prince”, by Antoine de Saint Exupery. It was purchased at Half-Price Books, and it just happens to be inscribed to its previous owner, Karen, by her boyfriend, it seems. Here is what he desperately wanted her to know:
Wyoming seems as far as Asteroid B-612. But my mind will follow you and imagine you sleeping under the stars or racing along on your skis or walking along the wildflowers. I guess I’ve been tamed like the Fox, (or did I tame you?) Either way, I’ll be so happy when I get to see you again. This is the perfect book for you to take hiking- small, clear beautiful AND it’ll remind you of me.
I love You
The fox that Phil mentioned gives a beautiful lesson on love and purpose. He, upon meeting the Little Prince, explains that until they “tame” each other, “to establish ties”, they will each be nothing more to one another than another passer-by; Their need for each other is based on the time that they spend with each other, making their relationship unique from other acquaintances, and creating a desire to experience their bond over and over.
The fox tells the Prince that at the moment, the sound of footsteps sends him underground, but when he hears the sound of the Little Prince’s steps, it will be like music, calling him above. The wheat fields are useless to him, but because of the Little Prince’s golden hair, the sight of the golden grain brings his thoughts back to the Prince. To the fox, being “tamed” will be as if the sun has come to shine in his life.
He knows, as well as the Little Prince that their time together is very short, and as the fox becomes saddened by their departure, the Prince blames him for wanting to be tamed, as if it would have been better to never have loved each other.
But the wise fox reassures him that being tamed has been good for him “because of the color of the wheat fields”. And with that statement, he ends with the expression, “what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
When I first read the inscription in the book, it made me sad. The fact that I had the personalized copy of the book meant that Karen didn’t keep it, and suggested that she didn’t keep Phil, either. And he really wanted her to remember him. They had tamed each other.
But then I thought about the message behind the story of The Little Prince, and how it was not about what was lost, but rather what was gained. Our memories have the ability to take us to the places where we once found love, and bring us passion, and life, and meaning, and can sustain us for a lifetime. They give purpose to starry skies and sunny days and gentle rains, and wildflowers. They tame us.
This Holiday Season, remember the fox and the Little Prince, and know that whether your loved ones are near or far, or have gone on from this place, that you have tamed one another, and it is as if the sun has come to shine in your life. What is essential is invisible to the eye.