I am waiting for some ideas in my head to percolate before I write about them, but I wanted to share this passage from The Little Prince, by Antoine De Saint-Exupery, our current bedtime reading. I offer it with no commentary as it struck me so forcefully last night and I feel anything I could add would mar it.
“The desert is beautiful,” the little prince added. And it was true. I’ve always loved the desert. You sit down on a sand dune. You see nothing. You hear nothing. And yet something shines, something sings in that silence….
“What makes the desert beautiful, ” the little prince said, “is that it hides a well somewhere. . .”
I was surprised by suddenly understanding that mysterious radiance of the sands. When I was a little boy I lived in an old house, and there was a legend that a treasure was buried in it somewhere. Of course, no one was ever able to find the treasure, perhaps no one even searched. But it cast a spell over that whole house. My house hid a secret in the depths of its heart. . . .
“Yes,” I said to the little prince, “whether it’s a house or the stars or the desert, what makes them beautiful is invisible!” . . .
As the little prince was falling asleep, I picked him up in my arms and started walking again. I was moved. It was as if I was carrying a fragile treasure. It actually seemed to me there was nothing more fragile on Earth. By the light of the moon, I gazed at that pale forehead, those closed eyes, those locks of hair trembling in the wind, and I said to myself, What I’m looking at is only a shell. What’s more important is invisible . . .
As his lips parted in a half smile, I said to myself again, What moves me so deeply about this sleeping little prince is his loyalty to a flower—the image of a rose shining within him like the flame within a lamp, even when he’s asleep . . . And I realized he was even more fragile than I had thought. Lamps must be protected: A gust of wind can blow them out. . . .
And walking on like that I found the well at daybreak.
The author wrote this book about a pilot who meets a mysterious little prince when his plane crashes in the desert. A year after it was published, Saint-Exupery, himself a pilot, disappeared while flying a reconnaisance mission. I imagine he met his little prince after all.