The Little Prince, by Antoine the Saint-Exupéry, is one of my favourite books of all time. Ever since I was a young child, I have been captivated by such a simple, yet beautiful tale. I have had the opportunity to read it in a few languages, including its original French, and I can attest that the beauty of the story does not get lost in translation.
I admire this book for many reasons. Not only the story is entertaining and easily understood by any reader regardless of their age or background. In my opinion, perhaps the most important attribute of the Little Prince is that it is a fantastic philosophical work.
For people who have not read The Little Prince yet, I highly recommend you do so. It should take less than two hours to complete from beginning to end. In short, the story is about the interaction between the author himself, and an extraterrestrial young kid (The Little Prince) who left his native asteroid and, as part of his galactic voyage, he visits Earth. Saint-Exupéry, a pilot, is stranded in the Sahara trying to repair his broken airplane, when the Little Prince meets him and they become friends. This friendship leads to a beautiful philosophical reflection where the author recalls his views of the world when he was a child, which in turn helps him understand the views on life that the Little Prince shares with him.
As grown-ups, exploring life through the eyes of a child can seem somewhat immature. However, it is one of the most complex reflections we can do. As we live through life, we progressively acquire more “adult” views of ourselves, the world and the people who surround us – and this leads to forget the child we used to be. While this happens, the thoughts, views and dreams that we had as children also vanish, and are substituted by more “mature” ideas where we measure the value of thoughts and ideas in more tangible and numerical standards than we used to.
Growing up, nevertheless, is a natural process – and a necessary one too. We could not live our whole lives thinking, dreaming, and playing as children. As people transition from childhood to adulthood, there is a lot of learning occurring in between, which helps us craft new thoughts and ideas, and in turn allow us to set new goals and dreams adequate for our present and our future. However, as we grow up, we also tend to keep out of our radar some of the values and dreams that we looked to pursue during our infancy.
What the Little Prince masters to portray is that every one of us started life by being a child. This child still lives within ourselves. Therefore, our childhood memories, values, dreams and passions accompany us the rest of our lives, however they are there in a dormant state. It is up to each individual to awaken those memories, dreams and thoughts, and incorporate them in their adult life as well.
It may be hard in the beginning to reach our inner child, especially if we have been disconnected from our childhood memories and dreams for a long time. Making this connection a goal in our regular meditation is very helpful. Recalling our childhood thoughts might be a very powerful experience which may awaken various unexpected emotions at first, but as we continue to practice this over time, it will also become an easier and more natural approach. As we reach this state we gradually understand our views of life as we were children, and with a little effort, we can incorporate some of them to our current life plans and goals.
By incorporating our childhood thoughts in our meditation on regular basis, slowly but surely we will make room for our inner child in our adulthood, and with that, we will also make room to our childhood dreams. By dedicating some of our valuable adult time (maybe an hour, maybe a few minutes) regularly to work towards fulfilling those childhood dreams, we will be in turn working towards living a more fulfilling life.