Lessons from “The Little Prince”

The Little Prince FlyingI can’t exactly remember the first time that I read The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry. Nor can I remember whether I read it in French or English. (My mother was a French teacher and as far as books go, this is one that you can understand in the ‘original’ language without having to have a massive vocabulary.)

Regardless, I instantly loved it. The drawings are beautiful in their simplicity, but packed with meaning. The story is engaging while evoking a deeper connection to the meaning of life and how we choose to live it.

When my husband brought to my attention that The Morgan Library was doing a special exhibit The Little Prince: A New York Story, I was naturally compelled to attend. But I never could have imagined how moving my experience going through the exhibit would actually be.

Saint Exupéry’s personal story was far more intertwined with The Little Prince than I had ever realized before. He was a reconnaissance pilot with an untapped desire to draw and tell stories. It was during his break from working as a pilot during the war effort that he wrote and drew this book. Interestingly, the tale of The Little Prince is told through the eyes of a pilot who always wanted to draw, but never felt he was any good at it (a bit autobiographical, if you will).

While Saint Exupéry’s book was sold before he went back to war, he didn’t live long enough to see the fruits of his efforts or to write another book. Not having known this before, I found seeing the book in this context caused it to have an even greater impact on me as an artist. His story re-emphasizes that life is uncertain and though you may never know the impact your work can and will have on others, it is none-the-less important to do it.

How many artists and other people would have never been inspired to greatness without these beloved drawings and this story which expresses such a simple and profound wisdom?

Though I haven’t had a chance to re-read the entire book with this newfound knowledge, I can hardly wait to do so. This wonderful exhibit (which ends on Sunday April 28) reminded me of many pertinent lessons that The Little Prince teaches.

Among them:

  • Youthfulness lies in all of us and we can benefit by staying in touch with it.
  • Your heart may be silenced at times but it never looses it’s wisdom about it’s true north. True happiness comes from listening to it.
  • We should always seek to understand those with a different perspective than our own. They may shed light on something that we never would have otherwise seen.
  • Beauty comes in many different and unexpected ways.

One of my favorite quotes from the book:

The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart. - Antoine de Saint Exupery, The Little Prince

What are your favorite lessons from The Little Prince? What are the things that most inspire you to follow your heart?

I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below!

May you always follow your true north,

Natalie

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