“And, if you should come upon this spot, please do not hurry on. Wait for a time, exactly under the star. Then, if a little man appears who laughs, who has golden hair and who refuses to answer questions, you will know who he is.”
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
Rodeo Beach lies just north of the Golden Gate. Yesterday, for a moment, I saw it. I saw the varied black of the sea stacks, the changing white of the spray, the deep blues of the surging ocean, the dappled greens of the field above the bluffs, the shadowed orange of the flowers. Such colors are probably always there, but for a moment I learned to drink them.
After reading it, my students often say they want to remember The Little Prince and reconnect with their own creativity, imagination, and sense of wonder. They say the little prince is wholly, fully himself, and reminds us to be ourselves. They say they want to remember “what makes them happy.” And that’s wonderful. But I don’t think we should stop there.
The book sings childhood, and childhood isn’t only about itself. A kid wants to be included, wants to be cared for, wants a stick that can be a sword or mud that can be a pie, but whenever I’ve watched a child really playing, the game isn’t about her. It’s about the friends around her, or the tree she’s climbing, or the creek she’s directing. It’s science and magic and love. Near the beginning of the story, when the pilot draws a crate with three air holes, the little prince can see the sheep inside. For the whole book, he cares whether the sheep is awake, or asleep, or hungry. He cares about others’ lives. He walks across new earth. His imagination shows him life beneath the surface.
The little prince reminds us to connect with our own hearts, with what gives us joy and makes us question and play–but out heart, in turns, connects us to the world. By approaching with curiosity, joy, and awe, the little prince sees the stars and the desert, and drinks from the secret well hidden in the dunes. He learns from everyone, and shares his heart with everyone. He makes friends with a fox.
So if you come to this spot–the spot just beneath a star; the spot with a horizon in front of you; the spot with someone else who might be a friend–please do not hurry. Wait for a time. Wonder gives us the world.