au coucher de soleil
|bits & pieces of life and travel through lenses.
"life is like photography, you use the negative to develop"
Life is no straight and easy corridor along which we travel free and unhampered, but a maze of passages through which we must seek out way, lost and confused, now and again checked in a blind alley.
But always, if we have faith, a door will open for us, not perhaps one that we ourselves would ever have thought of, but one that will ultimately prove good for us."
Seventy-five years ago, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry crashed his plane in the Sahara desert, where he was stranded for days, suffering from unimaginable thirst, hunger, heat and hallucinations. It was ten years before he told his story, and when he did, he told it through the soul of the child he once was, about the child that is in all of us. Le Petit Prince was published in the midst of the Second World War. A book of sweet innocence, for an era of harsh experience.
That natural human transformation from innocence to experience often comes too fast, too soon, too cruelly. Such is the transformation from child to child soldier.
I am grateful to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, for creating a fictional child who exemplified the true meaning of childhood, reminding his readers that there are important things that onlythe young can understand, that only the young can express and that only the young can accomplish.
So I released one hand, grabbed a cup and put it at the edge of the table.
“It’s going to fall,” he said.
“Exactly. I want you to fall,” I said.
“By breaking a glass?” he asked.
“Yes, by breaking a glass. A seemingly simple gesture, but it involves fears that we will never come to understand,” I responded. “What’s wrong with breaking a cheap glass, when we have all done this without meaning to at some point in our lives?”
“Breaking a glass?” he repeated, “Why?”
“I can give some explanations,” I answered, “but to be truthful it’s only for the sake of breaking it.”
“For your sake?”
“Of course not.”
He looked at the glass on the edge of the table , I could tell he was worried about it falling.
I wanted to say that it’s a rite of passage, as he’s often said. That it’s forbidden. That glasses do not break it on purpose. That when we walk into restaurants or into our homes, we are always careful to move the glasses that are on the edge of the table. Our world requires us to make sure that the glasses do not fall on the floor.
However, I kept thinking, when broken by accident, we see that it was not so serious. The waiter says “don’t worry about it”, and I’ve never seen a broken glass be billed on a restaurant tab. Breaking glasses is a part of life and do not cause any harm to us, the restaurant, or the next person to sit at that table.
I took a bump on the table. The glass shook, but did not fall.
“Be careful!” he said instinctively.
“Break the glass,” I insisted.
Break the glass, I thought to myself, because it is a symbolic gesture. Try to understand that within myself, things were breaking of much more importance than a glass, and I’m happy for that. Look to your own inner struggles and break this glass.
Our parents taught us to be careful with glasses and with our bodies. They taught us that the passions of childhood are impossible; we should not remove men from the priesthood, that people do not perform miracles and that no one goes on a journey without knowing where he wants to go.
Break this cup, please, I thought to myself, and release of all these damn misconceptions, the habit you have of only doing that which everyone agrees with.
“Break this glass,” I say again.
He fixed his eyes on mine. Then, slowly, he slid his hand over the table, to touch the glass. In a quick movement, he pushed it to the ground.
The sound of broken glass caught everyone’s attention. Instead of covering up the broken glass or apologizing, he looked at me and smiled. I smiled back."
If I have told you these details about the asteroid, and made a note of its number for you, it is on account of the grown-ups and their ways. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?” Instead, they demand: “How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.
If you were to say to the grown-ups: “I saw a beautiful house made of rosy brick, with geraniums in the windows and doves on the roof,” they would not be able to get any idea of that house at all. You would have to say to them: “I saw a house that cost $20,000.” Then they would exclaim: “Oh, what a pretty house that is!”
Just so, you might say to them: “The proof that the little prince existed is that he was charming, that he laughed, and that he was looking for a sheep. If anybody wants a sheep, that is a proof that he exists.” And what good would it do to tell them that? They would shrug their shoulders, and treat you like a child. But if you said to them: “The planet he came from is Asteroid B-612,” then they would be convinced, and leave you in peace from their questions.
They are like that. One must not hold it against them. Children should always show great forbearance toward grown-up people.
But certainly, for us who understand life, figures are a matter of indifference. I should have liked to begin this story in the fashion of the fairy-tales. I should have like to say: “Once upon a time there was a little prince who lived on a planet that was scarcely any bigger than himself, and who had need of a sheep…”
To those who understand life, that would have given a much greater air of truth to my story.
For I do not want any one to read my book carelessly. I have suffered too much grief in setting down these memories. Six years have already passed since my friend went away from me, with his sheep. If I try to describe him here, it is to make sure that I shall not forget him. To forget a friend is sad. Not every one has had a friend. And if I forget him, I may become like the grown-ups who are no longer interested in anything but figures…"