There’s nothing like rereading one of your favorite books years after first discovering it to make you realize how life’s experiences have inevitability changed your perspective on things. I first read “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry during the summer I was seventeen. It immediately became one of my favorite books and still is. However, there are a few messages about love, friendship, and responsibility that I absolutely loved the first time that now seem like they are missing an important “but…” Maybe this means I’m more pessimistic and jaded now or maybe it simply means that somewhere in past 10 years I just grew up.
The first such passage goes like this, “People have forgotten this truth," the fox said. "But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.” This basically says that you are responsible for the people that love you. Forever is such an idealistic word. What it doesn’t say is that sometimes part of growing up is learning to let people go. It doesn’t warn about what can happen if you let that responsibility weigh you down so much that you become a much worse version of yourself. It doesn’t tell you that there is a difference between loving someone and being good for someone, and that you shouldn’t feel guilty for walking away from something that might not be in your power to fix.
There is another passage that says, “If you love a flower that lives on a star, it is sweet to look at the sky at night. All the stars are a-bloom with flowers...” But what if loving the flower doesn’t make it sweet to look at the sky? What if it just makes you terribly sad? What if your whole life becomes bitter as you dearly desire and miss something that you cannot have and will never have again? We all learn eventually that memories can be both a blessing and a curse.
Don’t get me wrong, I still think that this is a brilliant book and makes a lot of great points. I still enjoy reading it and reflecting on all of the messages that it contains. If you have never read it, I would certainly recommend that you do. The fact that I can no longer read it with the innocence that I once did, does not mean that I don’t appreciate it, I just think that life has taught me that love and relationships are not as simple as I once may have thought.