Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Little Prince (again)

Perhaps my favourite book and one of the best accounts of friendship that exists. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's book tells of friendship, love and loss...through the eyes partly of a little prince, wandering the world trying to get back to his own home.

And he went back to meet the fox.
"Goodbye," he said.
"Goodbye," said the fox.
"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret:
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
"What is essential is invisible to the eye," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

When I lost my belief in god two years ago, for a while I was full of despair, because all I could see was us as machines, bags of blood and bone and chemicals, without souls, with no meaning to life, no goals, no reason. Everything was immediate, nothing that could not be measured existed.
It took me a while to realise that the fox's words below are true...we can be so much more than that.
What is essential is invisible to the eye.

So I cannot see love, friendship, pain, fear, sorrow, they are invisible.
I can measure the effects of them with fancy machines but the essence of the thing is invisible to my senses.
But with my heart, my emotional core, I can see and feel and perceive all these things and more. Life is not just about the concrete realities of day to day activities, underneath our physical bodies is a human spirit, unseen, untappable, not quantifiable but present.
The sum of all those chemical reactions maybe, but definitely present.

The spirit that makes my son1 fight to be the very best he can, despite his difficulties. That drives on son2 to be a listening ear for his friends, listening as a friend to their words and their hearts. The spirit in me that affirms that I won't...
"be made useless,
won't be idle with despair,
I will gather myself around my faith
for light does the darkness most fear
(Hands by Jewel)

My faith is now not in that god, living mysteriously above us, sending punishment and pain on those he hates and rewarding those that follow arbitary rules, but in that thing invisible to the human eye, the human spirit.
And we have to be "god's hands" in this world, as there is no one else to do it.

PS: another favourite passage...

"Good morning," said the little prince.
"Good morning," said the merchant.
This was a merchant who sold pills that had been invented to quench thirst.
You need only swallow one pill a week, and you would feel no need of anything to drink.
"Why are you selling those?" asked the little prince.
"Because they save a tremendous amount of time," said the merchant.
"Computations have been made by experts. With these pills, you save fifty-three minutes in every week."
"And what do I do with those fifty-three minutes?"
"Anything you like . . ."
"As for me," said the little prince to himself, "if I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked, I should walk at my leisure toward a spring of fresh water."

So would I.....

No comments: