“You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
All grown-ups were once children … but only few of them remember it. The Little Prince reminds us who we are and what makes us special by helping us to see the world through the eyes of a child.
As Michael Rennier points out, “adults aren’t disappointing simply because we have grown bigger, or obtained jobs, or taken on responsibilities. We are disappointing because for many of us these pursuits have taken on a disproportionate importance. We have forgotten how to see the world as it actually is and are blinded by appearances. We see people as statistics, education as functional, food as fuel, clothing as utilitarian, books as unnecessary luxury… We vastly over-value what we can experience with the senses. If this is what it means to be a grown up, is it any wonder that Saint-Exupery refused to condone our way of life? We are like the accountant he describes, spending our days working over our books, counting everything up, claiming ownership of all we can fit in the ledger, and failing to see that we live in a whole, wild universe filled to the brim with stars somewhere in the midst of which one, unique rose lives on a planet and calls out for love.
The rose, for Saint-Exupery, represents love, the way in which we tame each other and allow ourselves to be tamed. It is this invisible virtue that makes one, single rose special. It isn’t the flower itself, after all, there are fields and fields of roses out there. By outward appearances, a rose is like any other rose. So how is it different? It is the invisible bond of love.
In order to have a truly perfect love, we are required in a way to become children again and learn to whole-heartedly trust and give all we have to the beloved. If we care for one another, we deny ourselves for their sake, even if this means we sometimes get hurt. It is worth the risk because the only other alternative… is to treat every other person as an object… to see a field of roses, objects that are nice enough but fairly common… ”
The cost of not daring to love is to miss the warmth of a close connection with another person, inability to open up, be loved and understood…