The fox fell silent and looked steadily at the little prince for a long time.
“Please,” he said, “tame me!”
“I should like to,” replied the little prince, “but I don’t have much time. I have friends to discover and many things to understand.”
“One only ever understands what one tames. People no longer have the time to understand anything. They buy everything ready-made from the shops. But there is no shop where friends can be bought, so people no longer have friends. If you want a friend, tame me!”
“What do I have to do?” said the little prince.
“You have to be very patient,” replied the fox. “First, you will sit down a short distance away from me, like that, in the grass. I shall watch you out of the corner of my eye and you will say nothing; words are the source of misunderstandings. But each day you may sit a little closer to me.”
The next day the little prince came back.
“It would have been better to come back at the same time of day,” said the fox. “For instance, if you come at four in the afternoon, when three o’clock strikes I shall begin to feel happy. The closer our time approaches, the happier I shall feel. By four o’clock, I shall already be getting agitated and worried; I shall discover that happiness has its price! But if you show up at any old time, I’ll never know when to start dressing my heart for you … We all need rituals.”
“What is a ritual?” said the little prince.
“Something else that is frequently neglected,” said the fox. “It’s what makes one day different from the other days, one hour different from the other hours …”
~ Antoine de Saint Exupéry (1900 – 1944)
French aviator, author, and lover of life
from The Little Prince (1943)
translated by T.V.F. Cuffe
Musings and Impressions
Friendship is that warm, fuzzy feeling, just like love, without the eros. As with all treasures, there’s a price. But what is the price? Anxiety? Anticipation? Quarrels? Rituals? Or is it just the price we have to pay to dress our hearts?
How can I dress my heart for you? Shall it be vermillion, black, white, or wheat gold? Is it a color à la mode or the color of your heart? I wish the fox had given us some answers.
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