You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.
by Todd Foley
I grew up on an island with less than 2000 people. The public school had around 300 students, K-12. Graduation was a huge deal. The entire community came to the event, and each graduating student brought a customized box where guests could leave a gift.
One of the most meaningful gifts was a paperback copy of The Little Prince by Antione de Saint Exupery. The gift was from an influential teacher who taught me 8th grade humanities, senior year civics and four years of French – as well as led school trips to Washington, D.C., France and Quebec. Inside the book’s cover was a handwritten note:
Because of all of the trips and classes, I give you chapter 21.”
This chapter finds the Little Prince unhappy and lonely. He then meets a fox.
“Come and play with me,” he says to the fox.
“I cannot play with you,” the fox replies. “I am not tamed.”
“What does that mean – to tame?”
“It means to establish ties. To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…please, tame me!”
“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,” the fox said.
The Little Prince finally understands what the fox has been saying: To tame something means you’re investing time and energy in order to know it better. When this is achieved, you and this other thing become forever intertwined.
That’s what I set out to do with this blog – which is interesting considering I’ve never met most of the people reading this. I’m essentially releasing a part of me to total strangers, people who don’t know me apart from the sentences I struggle to construct on these posts.
This is terrifying. Even more terrifying is the fact that I’m getting ready to self-publish my first book and open it up to the criticism of others. What if no one reads it? What if people hate it? What if…?
Bu that’s the danger and the beauty of writing. Some of the most profound, life-changing materials I’ve read have come from total strangers. And so through this intentional reading and sharing of materials, I’ve found myself “tamed” by literary strangers. It influences me in my own pursuits and motivates me to keep at it. To keep writing when I feel no motivation or that I have nothing worthwhile to share.
There’s a plethora of blogs about writing, and I know hardly anyone sees these posts. That’s okay. Knowing that something has been read at least once by one person, or knowing that I have come to know someone better by reading what they’ve shared with the world…that one thought, that one question, that one reflection…this has resulted in us becoming tamed.
Back to chapter 21: The Prince has a rose that he waters and nurtures. It looks just like every other rose out there, but he takes care of this one. He often feels that he wastes his time on this rose. To this, the fox replies: “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
To all the writers and bloggers out there, know that your words have an impact and that through your efforts, you’re making the world a smaller place – which is a good thing. You’re establishing ties with others. With me. You may see it as a waste of time, but it’s because you’ve wasted so much time on your writing that your writing has become so meaningful to others.
“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.”