Monday, April 14, 2008

44 sunsets

Oh, little prince! Bit by bit I came to understand the secrets of your sad little life... For a long time you had found your only entertainment in the quiet pleasure of looking at the sunset.

I learned that new detail on the morning of the fourth day, when you said to me:

"I am very fond of sunsets. Come, let us go look at a sunset now."

"But we must wait," I said.

"Wait? For what?"

"For the sunset. We must wait until it is time."

At first you seemed to be very much surprised. And then you laughed to yourself. You said to me: "I am always thinking that I am at home!"

Just so. Everybody knows that when it is noon in the United States the sun is setting over France. If you could fly to France in one minute, you could go straight into the sunset, right from noon. Unfortunately, France is too far away for that. But on your tiny planet, my little prince, all you need do is move your chair a few steps. You can see the day end and the twilight falling whenever you like.........

I have read the Little Prince so many times I lost count how many, exactly. I cannot pinpoint a single chapter that I could consider to be the most impressive because every chapter offers a lesson or two to learn from.

This sixth chapter, though, applies to my current general mood of constantly switching back and forth from being happy to being lonely (who doesn't anyway?) After all, life is all about opposites. Happy now, next thing you know, sad and frustrated.

We all suffer from losing people in our lives~ not always by death but by other reasons that are offshoots of human relationships. By death, I have lost my mom, an elder brother and grandparents and aunts and uncles; some other living members of the family, by various acts of failure to understand and empathize. Sometimes by an incurable disease that plagues the body and the mind~ resulting in an irritating type of idleness.

We also lose people in our lives philosophically. 'can't argue with money. It's either someone has amassed money and become unreachable or you do not have enough that you have to lose each other. Or even worse, we lose close friends because they have been changed or influenced by other people who walk into their lives hiding beneath a sheep's clothing. Then your friend throws away years of meaningful friendship in exchange for a meaningless and false life.

And then there's the marital rift that sets apart the in-laws. Nephews, nieces, brothers and sisters in law, parents in law~ not everyone harbors the same ill feelings yet we lose them by association and affiliation.

Distance is another factor. Members of the clan move away to greener pastures and then your children grow up not only physically but also culturally apart. They come back to visit but they have already become strangers in their homeland. And then you realize you are so much more closer with your neighbor who is not even a blood relative than your first cousin whom you have never spoken to again after she left when you were both 7 years old.

The people in our lives that we have lost or in the verge of losing -- they are the sad sunsets that give us the twitch in the heart. There are days that the memories of the sunsets come flooding through your being and just like the Little Prince, they make you want to see a sunset.

"One day," you said to me, "I saw the sunset forty-four times!"

And a little later you added: "You know, one loves the sunset, when one is so sad..." "Were you so sad, then?" I asked, "on the day of the forty-four sunsets?"

44 sunsets. I may have had one sad sunset in all my 44 summers. That leaves me with 16,016 other sunsets that may not have been sad. And it means I have had 16,060 sunrises. I don't know Math. Maybe I am wrong in assuming there were only 44 sad sunsets but assuming this is true, what does it mean? It means I have 44 sad sunsets that help me appreciate the 16,016 other sunsets in my 44 years.

Was I so sad then~~on the days of the sad sunsets?

But the little prince made no reply.


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