How The Little Prince Can Help You Reclaim Your Childhood
December 6, 2017
On a day when you miss the innocence of your childhood, turn to The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and reclaim a part of it.
The Little Prince is the timeless tale of a pilot who finds himself stranded in the desert where he runs into the little prince, who comes from a distant planet and has a very simple outlook on life. Before he landed on Earth, the prince had visited many other planets where he’d met an incomprehensible cast of characters. As a result, he doesn’t understand why grown-ups complicate life or focus on things, which do not matter. This encounter with the little prince makes the pilot nostalgic about his own childhood and he laments the loss of his inner child as he grew up.
The little prince took up the conversation again, “One gets a bit lonely in the desert.”
“One gets a bit lonely among people, too,” the snake said.
As a child, I would play for hours on my own. All I needed was my imagination and a few props like a doll or my set of G.I. Joes. I could be a soldier on the battlefield or a girl having a tea party. It didn’t matter that I was sitting alone.
As grown-ups, most of us surround ourselves with people in a bid to escape loneliness, not realizing that it isn’t the number of people around us that matter but the quality. The Little Prince will help you understand the nature of loneliness and how it’s not as simple as it seems.
Maybe, now is a good time to schedule some one-on-one quality time with a good friend.
“We don’t make a note of flowers,” said the geographer.
“Why not? It’s the prettiest thing of all.”
“Because flowers are ephemeral.”
There is a lot of beauty to that which is ephemeral because it is “likely to disappear before very long” and that adds to our sense of urgency to hold on to it. So, we use our cameras to capture ephemeral moments with the focus being on preserving them instead of enjoying them.
Children instead spend their time embracing the ephemeral. They will stop to smell at roses instead of whipping out their phones to take a photograph to post on social media. They will notice the shape of clouds in the sky and try to identify constellations at night. So, next time you are at a concert, perhaps enjoy the music, the vibe and the company instead of concentrating on recording it on your phone.
“You should never listen to flowers. You must look at them and smell them.”
I know a planet where a red-faced man lives. He’s never smelt a flower. He’s never gazed at a star. He’s never loved anyone. He’s never done anything except add things up. and all day he talks like you: “I deal with things that matter! I deal with things that matter!” and it makes him swell up in pride.
Children understand what truly matters- it isn’t money or power or fame- it is the simple things like their parent’s love or an afternoon spent with a friend. It’s easy for them to be happy.
Meanwhile, grown-ups let relationships collapse because they are too busy working hard in their pursuit of what they think is important. For the little prince, this is the ultimate form of foolishness and he just doesn’t understand it. To him, the war between sheep and flowers is more important. “Isn’t it a serious matter, and more important than the sums that a fat, red-faced man adds up?”
So, next time, you have to choose between doing some busy work and spending time with a friend or your family, remember what matters and make a meaningful choice. Pick up that phone and call someone you’ve let fall through the cracks.
The little prince never let a question go, once it had been asked.
Question everything. Children are always asking questions to understand the world around them. They don’t come into the world with preconceived notions or an outlook filtered by convention and education. They are eager and wide-eyed with curiosity.
As grown-ups, we tend to make assumptions or accept things without questioning them. Perhaps, it’s time to start asking questions. It’s time to be relentless in our quest to comprehend our reality instead of just believing everything we are told.
“All grown-ups were once children.”
Children have the most amazing ability to imagine things. In their world, nothing is impossible and neither the rules of physics nor of society apply. If you play with them, you will find yourself drinking endless cups of invisible tea, or perhaps, they will ask you to pretend to be a unicorn and ride you around the room. You’ll believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and remember the stuffed toy with whom you would share your secrets.
And yet, today, as adults, we have forgotten how to give flight to our imagination. Let’s try something new. Take a look at the image below:
What do you see here? According to the little prince, this box can be used as a home for a sheep in it. However, for us grown-ups, this is simply a box as we are used to seeing things as they are and not what they could be. This box is and can be so much more. It can have books in it, or a fox or even a milkshake. We are only limited by our lack of imagination.
The Little Prince will make you smile as Saint-Exupéry muses on childhood and reminds us of what we were like as children. He walks us through the traps we often find ourselves in and makes us laugh at our follies. More importantly, though, the book teaches us how we can be better human beings and sometimes, that involves embracing our inner child.
Is The Little Prince one of your favourite books? What other books remind you of your childhood?
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Devanshi has been reading ever since she can remember. What started off as an obsession with Enid Blyton, slowly morphed into a love for mystery and fantasy. Even her choice of career as a lawyer was heavily influenced by the works of Erle Stanley Gardner and John Grisham. After quitting law, and while backpacking around India, she read books on entrepreneurship, taught herself web design and delved into social media marketing. She doesn’t go anywhere without a book.
She is the founding editor of The Curious Reader. Read her articles here.