Here’s my secret…

“Here’s my secret. It’s quite simple: You can only see clearly with your heart. You cannot see the essence of things with your eyes.”

The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

 

It is very difficult to talk about and analyze the simple things… the “evident” things. All the things in life that you conceptualize with ease; those whose awareness is a given; but whose essence is not applicable in practice. An example of such things is the above excerpt from The Little Prince. You understand the meaning but, should you search deep inside, it’s hard to reach its depth, to turn it into action, to experience it and, in the end, make it your own… part of you… So let’s discuss a real-life story. Life is always able to paint the picture with bright colors and impress the mind much more than words and analyses can; and so we can easier conquer such a powerful truth – like the one from The Little Prince. You may have heard this story before or maybe not; it is possible that, even though you’ve heard it and it touched you, you haven’t made the connection with The Little Prince; and so you weren’t able to make his secret yours by experience…

 

The story is about a friend who loved dancing. She told me the following:

“Once upon a time, several years ago, in the midst of tons of work and anxiety, I decided I should save some time for an activity – a hobby of mine. This would provide the ability to escape my everyday routine, as well as “charge my batteries” in order to return a more productive person to my very demanding work. So, I just started dancing. Just? But dancing is a very serious affair… So serious I could go on analyzing it indefinitely; but this is probably the topic of another article (or articles).

As time went by and I continued with my dancing lessons, my passion for dance was increasing exponentially. I was really into it. I wanted to learn how to be an expert dancer – whatever that meant or required. Amateurs, as is well known, are the lovers of art; therefore, by definition, their tendency to “perfect themselves” is cultivated and excused. So I started attending more lessons and seminars; to occupy myself with the technique; to attend practices and milongas; to read books and watch the performances of great dancers. People studying one of the natural sciences would agree completely with me that, if you have a good grasp on the theory, then you are able to make the transition to practice correctly and with much ease. And so I tried to know (on a theoretical level) which muscles contract and which ones relax when doing this particular movement; about the momentum… the angular momentum; about the angles that should be formed. Ideally, I would try to know the degree of the angles, the time they required, etc. I had conscripted all the maths and physics available to the altar of perfect movement. In theory, that is. Because as soon as I tried to put all that into action, reality was relentless. There was no way for me to dance spontaneously. So much education on the matter had twisted me emotionally… The absolute rationalism, the maths and physics, had left no space for any sort of emotional expression. I was blocked; and this was particularly troubling for quite some time. It was so difficult for me to explain the problem rationally – let alone solve it; how could one possess the theoretical knowledge and train vigorously on top of it, only to fail in performing the perfect movement?

In the end, I decided to ask a Famous Dancer and Great Instructor – one I had accidentally befriended on Facebook without having met him in person. So I started sending him messages, asking questions non-stop, bombarding him with questions, numbers, phrases, arguments, proof, angles, degrees of angles, analyses and more analyses… What a kind man. He always responded (I wonder where he found the courage!); but his words fell on deaf ears… Until, one afternoon last September, I received a message from him, an answer to one of my countless questions. It said: “You’re looking at an expert dancing movement by conscripting your precious rationality. And all this time that you’ve been asking questions, your eyes look at what my responses on the screen, but you don’t want to see… So watch this; but hide that goniometer in your drawer…” Below was the link of a private video…

One click on that link marked the moment when everything shifts… There, in front of my surprised eyes, was one of the most famous and expert dancers I know, lying humbly on the floor, dancing in a fixed position with a young paraplegic girl as his partner. This girl was taking dancing lessons to deal with the grave health problems she was facing; for her it was a race of life… There is no way for words to describe the image my eyes were facing for the one-and-a-half minute this choreography lasted…

If you don’t put the goniometer and your common sense in the drawer, that particular dance was anything but expert in technical terms… But, with the eyes of the soul, it was the most beautiful dance one could look at… By far more perfect than what one could see during the greatest performance in the world… So shockingly grand it could make one’s eyes weep for hours…”

 

People are born with the ingrained ability to see the beauty of life in everything; and also with the inherent wisdom to tell apart what is important and what is not, out of all the things that happen around us. With their innocent eyes, children can see the substance and the deep truth of things, identifying themselves completely with The Little Prince. Yet, in the course of our lives (people of the western world in particular), we are groomed and trained so that our vision loses its ability to see heartily the substance of things. Our precious rationality, our obsession with rationalization and compartmentalization, our modern way of life, our vanity (cultivated artfully by western civilization), our perfectionism, our often materialistic tendencies and extreme consumerism; all these things blur our vision so that, from a certain point onward, we do not focus on the essence and beauty of life. In full subjectivity, we perceive the trivial as important. We focus on the small things and miss the grandeur. We fill our lives with lost moments that would be magical if… The Little Prince, existing in everyone’s soul by birth, inevitably falls in hypnosis as we grow older… We look but we don’t see… We acquire knowledge but we don’t learn… We breathe but we don’t live…

Obviously, it is of no importance to mention how well my friend danced in the end. What is important is for this story to bring you a little closer to the Prince’s truth… Because, without it, it’s quite possible that society falls deeper and deeper into a coma. The Prince’s secret is as simple as it is hard to apply in our time… “you can only see clearly with your heart; you cannot see the essence of things with your eyes”. But, indubitably, it’s worth the try…

Artemis Christina M.

 

This article is dedicated…

To Beauty Guards everywhere, in or out of this blog. To all the people who keep The Little Prince alive in themselves. To those who, despite the occasional hardship, see heartily the essence and beauty in life and preserve it.

To the Famous Dancer and Instructor who, by providing this example, shone a light on a difficult path; so that we can, in the course of our lives, see clearly the essence with the eyes of our soul – no matter how dark it is.

 

 

Below, I affix the excerpt from the original text:

“Voici mon secret. Il est très simple: on ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince.

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