a life well lived

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Laughing stars 06/29/00

Today is Antoine de Saint-Exupery's 100th birthday.  He died many years sort of it, last seen in 1944 flying a Free French reconnaisance plane over the Mediterranean, a German fighter plane in hot pursuit. 

No one really knows for sure what happened, his body was never found, which seems a poetic fate for the author of The Little Prince.

Lots and lots of people know Saint-Exupery's most famous quote, the gift of wisdom the fox gave the Little Prince when they parted - "One sees clearly only with the heart.  What is essential is invisible to the eye."

I would like to share a less famous piece, near the end of the book, the
Little Prince speaking to the Aviator:

People have stars, but they aren't the same.  For travelers, stars are guides.  For other people, they are nothing but tiny lights.  And for still  others, for scholars, they're a problem.  For my businessman, they were gold.   But all these stars are silent stars.  You, though, you'll have stars like nobody else.

What do you mean?

When you look up at the sky, since I will be living on one of them, since
I'll be laughing on one of them, for you it will be as if all the stars are
laughing.  You'll have stars that can laugh!

And he laughed again.

And when you're consoled (everyone eventually is consoled), you'll be glad that you've known me.  You'll always be my friend.  You'll feel like laughing with me.  And you'll open your window sometimes just for the fun of it...  And your friends will be amazed to see you laughing up at the sky...

*    *    *    *   *   *

I love that passage for itself and because it makes me think of my father.  In his final illness, he would look at us (I was 19 and Betty was 17), smile that gentle smile that hovered under his beard, and say, "Soon, I will be hanging out the stars."  

Because of my father, the stars laugh for me even to this day.  When I am hanging out the stars with Pete, I hope they will laugh for you.

Good night, my friends.  Am off to bed - Katharine Reynolds Lockhart

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