Pay it forward

When we hear someone comment, “ Mmmmm I am surprised that you are doing this. You strike me as someone who is ….”  It is interesting to see how one person views another person. Our appearances cannot be an accurate representation of who we are but as a rule how we carry ourselves and interact with others do give away some clues about the kind of person we are.

I try to be unassuming but like it or not, I do have lapses and become critical of others . Most people are judgmental rightly or wrongly, they form opinions of people and sometimes these opinions will change, some ‘judgments’ are stuck with certain people in perpetuity but others may not. Everyone of us can be like everyone else and I am not sure if we really know who we are until we are confronted with certain situations, thus it is best that we hold our horses and stop judging.

I went to a book café last week. There were some children’s books lining up the shelves and I asked the café operator’s eight year-old daughter if she had read Le Petit Prince. She was most delighted to pick up The Little Prince and started reading to me her favourite passages. After reading aloud to me a couple of her favourite passages, her mother stopped her from reading because she knew that I had to return to work.

Le Petit Prince  is a fable that tells the story of  a little boy who leaves the safety of his own tiny planet ( the size of which is scarcely bigger than a house) to travel the universe. In his voyage to the earth, he encounters a fox, a snake, a railway pointsman and the merchant who sells patent pills to quench thirst. The narrator of the story is an aviator who has kept his own company and one day he made a forced landing in the Sahara desert and that was how he met the little boy whom he came to describe as the little prince and he had good reason to believe that the planet from which the little prince comes from is the Asteroid known as B 612.

“ The reason I have told you so much about Asteroid B612, and let you know its number, is because of grown-ups. Grown-ups love figures. When you describe a new friend to them, they never ask you about the important things, They never say: “What’s is his voice like?” What are his favourite games?Does he collect butterflies?” Instead they demand:  “How old is he ? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much does his father earn?” Only then do they feel they know him.

The humanism of The Little Prince is well demonstrated by the conversation that takes place between the fox and the little Prince.

 ‘I can’t play with you,’ said the fox. ‘I am not tame.’

‘Oh! I beg your pardon,’ said the little prince.

The prince asked the  fox to explain what tame meant.

Something that is frequently neglected,’said the fox. ‘It means “to create ties”.’

The little prince then remembered the rose

that he had taken care of and had left behind, so he reckoned the flower must have tamed him.

The fox said,

My life is very monotonous. I run after the chickens, the men run after me. All the chickens are the same, all the men are the same. Consequently, I get a little bored. But if you tame me, my days will be as if filled with sunlight. I shall know the sound of a footstep different from all the rest.……….’

The fox told the little prince a secret when the little prince was about to leave.

 ‘Goodbye,’ said the fox.’Now here is my secret, very simply: you can only see things clearly with your heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.’

‘It is the time you have wasted on your rose that makes your rose so important.’

People have forgotten the truth,’ said the fox. ‘But you must not forget. You become responsible, for ever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose.’

The little prince was thus reminded by the fox that he was responsible for his rose.

Le Petit Prince (The little prince) is a  beautiful novella that has been poetically written and it is a charming classic for all ages. It must be read and re-read time and time again to remind ourselves about seeing things with our hearts as what is essential is invisible to our eyes.

On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. ‘-Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. A timely reminder indeed.

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