The Little Princess
art by Anya Lei
It was 12:08 AM and I rubbed my sore eyes, finally shutting my laptop screen for the first time since eight that morning. Even after an exhausting day of virtual meetings, hours of studying, note-taking and writing there was still so much to be done. I found myself thinking, when was the last time I laughed a hearty laugh over something substantial? The sarcastic humor of social media and judgemental mentality of the online community didn’t feel right to laugh about at all. Recently, it felt like the world was caving into itself with the sins and evils of human beings plaguing society.
All at once, a book I read when I was younger suddenly started to make so much sense. The Little Prince, written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, was one of my favorite books, because it was such a simple story yet it concealed layers of meaningful themes. Every time I read The Little Prince, I uncover another symbol.
My ten-year-old self used to relate so much to the Prince, questioning why grown-ups were so narrow-minded sometimes- like the Vain Man who craves solace so he can be the most beautiful (and only) person on his little planet, or the Businessman who owns all the stars but couldn’t care less about each one, or the King who commands people to do what they would have done anyway. After traveling to these planets with the Little Prince, I laughed at the superficiality of adults and promised I would never become like that.
Going back even earlier, I remember the five-star Michelin restaurants serving shrimp kebabs and premium cuts of steak I conjured in my imaginary kitchen, with my fake toy foods and toy stove. On weekends, I held lectures and classes for all my students, and not one teddy-bear or barbie doll was spared from my teaching. The world seemed like an endless Christmas present, waiting for me to discover the gifts inside.
But, like everyone else, I grew up.
Reading the book at the age of seventeen felt completely different. I was the one the Little Prince laughed at: the businessman too busy to greet a visitor, the passengers on the railroad unhappy and unclear of where they are headed, and the adult who could not envision the shape of a hat as a boa constrictor eating an elephant. It makes me wonder when the world became so grey. When did I start feeling like I owed my time to perfecting my resume instead of exploring my passions? When did I start prioritizing everything over my mental health? These days, I barely notice the beauty of the world around me, and never stop for even a second to look up at the cerulean sky instead of down at my iPhone.
What I’ve come to realize, however, is that The Little Prince is hidden in all of us. The childish explorer who embarks on a journey to find himself and learns of love, greed, vanity, and lust. The child who is afraid of losing himself to the world of adults, bound by pure love of his rose on the little planet he resided on.
At the end of the day, hope, love, and innocence are parts of me no matter what. I am bound by my love for my family and friends. I have met the “Snake” who betrays you, the “Baobabs” that create chaos if you aren’t paying attention, and the “Sales Clerk” who takes shortcuts without thinking of repercussions. Like the Little Prince, I too left my home to see what the world has to offer.
What kind of adult will I be 20, 30, 40 years from now? Who knows… but the exploration of life and its ups and downs makes all the difference.