In this increasingly “mature” world of adults complaining about how non functional they all are and relating to a plethora of posts on the internet about the same, we must remind ourselves that age is just a number. That growing up is inevitable and the pressures of being a functional adult are a stereotype that everyone feels like they must don to be perceived as one in the society they habituate.
It can be attributed to the fact that most children growing up in Indian households (and I generalize) have been mollycoddled a lot into believing that until they move to a different city for their education or are married or get a job they aren’t exactly “adults”. Yes they vote, drink, drive, exercise self-hood, form their own opinions and stick to them, grow out and grow into trends, hearts, mindsets and whatnot. Yet being an adult while for some carries the connotation of having existed for 18 years on earth or for others getting a job, or yet for more people getting into college, your parents don’t seem to see you as one at any point in your life really. To them you’re their little (insert generic nickname).
Breaking out of that image requires a lot of thinking, rash decisions to exert adulthood could lead to damaging consequences like losing what you love most about yourself, or even losing yourself as a person and end up selling your soul unknowingly into the trap of permanent despair at not being able to achieve what the society calls being an adult.
So then you’re stuck between trying to be this person you clearly are not yet you need to become because you are “of age” and consciously halting at any sign of reverting back to old more “childish” ways of existing. Trapped in a nostalgic dump that you bring out with a hash-tag “throwback Thursday” or “I wish I was back to the good old days of innocence”, without realizing that growing up and losing your innocence are not essentially equitable.
Writing a long winded article about how to prove this is not the solution. Neither will I try to preach for that is what everyone does to shut you up when you become “too whiny” about genuinely feeling depressed and without motivation in this competitive world. What I will ask of you is to take a little time off, relax and watch or read this little masterpiece from where I quoted the title, The Little Prince alternatively the original French version called Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
This tiny book is the remedy to the boiling pot of frustration in your head. When I first read it I was in a precarious position, I wanted to grow up and be an adult and forget about being “childish” or what is actually indulging in your heart’s desires without the fear of judgment. Then I came across the first page that proclaimed very sincerely a dedication from the author:
“TO LEON WERTH
I ask the indulgence of the children who may read this book for dedicating it to a grown-up. I have a serious reason: he is the best friend I have in the world. I have another reason: this grown-up understands everything, even books about children. I have a third reason: he lives in France where he is hungry and cold. He needs cheering up. If all these reasons are not enough, I will dedicate the book to the child from whom this grown-up grew. All grown-ups were once children–although few of them remember it. And so I correct my dedication:
TO LEON WERTH
WHEN HE WAS A LITTLE BOY”
I guess you could say, I let my heart speak for the first time in a long while, and it told me to pick this book up and never let it go. I dared not question it then, and for that I am grateful to my 16 year old self.
“…All grown-ups were once children–although few of them remember it…” how simply he put down everything I felt, all my conflicts, the raging storm within me calmed within seconds, because YES! This is it! We tend to forget what it is or was like to be carefree and free of judgments, and coming back with atrociously dirty shoes, knowing that there is a dark tunnel to enter replete with admonishments of a parent looming nigh yet never stopping, always running, without worrying. This book was a savior and I clung on to it like a lifeboat.
What it is is the story of a little prince, who left his planet, asteroid B-612 as the earthlings identified it, to cure his loneliness and came to earth after exploring a series of planets full of regret at how they had all forgotten how to live. On earth a pilot whose plane had crashed in the desert comes across the prince. The tiny prince asked him to draw him a sheep, one of the most iconic moments in the entire book and that’s all you need to know until you decide to peruse this further.
“If you please–draw me a sheep!”
“Draw me a sheep!”
The grown-ups discouraged me in my painter’s career when I was six years old, and I never learned to draw anything, except boas from the outside and boas from the inside.
“But–what are you doing here?”
And in answer he repeated, very slowly, as if he were speaking of a matter of great consequence:
“If you please–draw me a sheep . . .”
“That doesn’t matter. Draw me a sheep . . .”
But I had never drawn a sheep. So I drew for him one of the two pictures I had drawn so often. It was that of the boa constrictor from the outside. And I was astounded to hear the little fellow greet it with,
“No, no, no! I do not want an elephant inside a boa constrictor. A boa constrictor is a very dangerous creature, and an elephant is very cumbersome. Where I live, everything is very small. What I need is a sheep. Draw me a sheep.”
So then I made a drawing.
He looked at it carefully, then he said:
“No. This sheep is already very sickly. Make me another.”
So I made another drawing.
My friend smiled gently and indulgently.
“You see yourself,” he said, “that this is not a sheep. This is a ram. It has horns.”
So then I did my drawing over once more.
But it was rejected too, just like the others.
“This one is too old. I want a sheep that will live a long time.”
By this time my patience was exhausted, because I was in a hurry to start taking my engine apart. So I tossed off this drawing.
And I threw out an explanation with it.
“This is only his box. The sheep you asked for is inside.”
I was very surprised to see a light break over the face of my young judge:
“That is exactly the way I wanted it! Do you think that this sheep will have to have a great deal of grass?”
“Because where I live everything is very small . . .”
“There will surely be enough grass for him,” I said. “It is a very small sheep that I have given you.”
He bent his head over the drawing.
“Not so small that–Look! He has gone to sleep . . .”
And that is how I made the acquaintance of the little prince.
The little prince will tell you how the world isn’t a cruel place but just some people who’ve forgotten how to laugh, it gives you hope, and reminds you how establishing ties and needing people is okay, teaches you that “The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.” And of course how to find your way back to it. It is a stunning often overlooked masterpiece that everyone grown up in this world needs to spare a disgruntled sigh for, love it in secret or light and internalize that “…eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart.”
A movie of the same name has been released in 2015, along with stop motion animation which was a brave attempt to undertake. Doing justice to a book transferring it to celluloid is easily one of the most difficult tasks particularly this one, yet, and I rarely say this if at all ever, the movie is somehow better than the book. I doff my hat to director Mark Osborne and the entire creative team.
The entire book is written and illustrated by the author himself and if you are looking for the best translation of the story where the loss of the original is felt the least, try the Katherine Woods one. It tears you up just the same.
So indulge yourselves and live for a while and smile and cry with this book and look at the stars and wish on one and maybe some quiet night you’ll hear a faint laughter echoing from that vast expanse, that won’t be the Universe laughing at your misery but instead will be the little prince who after all that he had seen and the loneliness he had felt found his way back to his happiness and so can you.