2011-05-02

Friendship

The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time.
"Please – tame me!" he said.
"I want to, very much," the little prince replied. "But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand."
"One only understands the things that one tames," said the fox. "Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me…"
"What must I do, to tame you?" asked the little prince?
"You must be very patient," replied the fox. "First you will sit down at a little distance from me – like that – in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day…"

"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose..."
"I am responsible for my rose," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

Friendship is not something to be entered into lightly. It's a long, heavy process (though it also can be very fun and exciting at the same time), and if you're serious about it, it leaves you at a place where the person or persons you have befriended are important to you, not because they give you something, but because you have given them something.

This is why it should not be entered lightly. Because at the end, you have given parts of yourself to each other, and extricating yourself from those ties is often painful and damaging, in a way that often requires grieving - even if there was no falling out between people. You cannot simply sever the ties and move on. You are responsible for the person with whom you have shared life, even if this means the responsibility of working with them to end a relationship.

That being said, we cannot live properly without connection to other human beings, and so, friendship - you could even say love (romantic or otherwise) - is an essential part of our experience here, even though it is often very difficult and painful.

"Only the children know what they are looking for," said the little prince. "They waste their time over a rag doll and it becomes very important to them; and if anybody takes it away from them, they cry..."

"They are lucky," the switchman said.