I read Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince for the first time when I was in junior high, and the book seemed so dumb. A little boy whose best friend is a rose? Weird. He befriends a pilot in the desert? Crazy. The themes of seeing with the heart and not losing one’s childlike spirit were completely lost on me. But I watched the new film version this weekend, and I feel like I finally get it. Maybe, as a thirteen-year-old, I was so eager to become a grown up that I couldn’t conceive that there would be any downside to adulthood.
But being an actual adult sometimes feels so burdensome. We’re the ones responsible for paying the bills, for making good choices, for helping others, and for raising another generation of decent humans. There are times that the burden feels heavier than others, and this week has been one of those times for me.
So as I read the pieces for this month’s journal with The Little Prince playing in the background, it struck me that all of this month’s pieces play with the tensions inherent in our visions of ourselves. Featured author Meg Conley’s “Dear Self” criticizes the idea that we naturally evolve into better versions of ourselves as we age, while an adult perspective helps Bradeigh Godfrey see the motives of her teenaged pioneer grandmother with new eyes in “The Boots.” Melissa Young sees that harvest and death hallow the ground we walk on in “Fall,” and Melody Newey Johnson’s poem from our archive “Be Still (a psalm) appeals to the rest that we all (even adults) need to find peace and solace in a world that can feel like it’s all too much sometimes.
We hope we can retain some of the childlikeness of The Little Prince, and that we can the the good hearts and intentions of others. It turns out that Saint-Exupery had it right after all.
Shelah Mastny Miner
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