Sunday, September 16, 2007

Daily Routines

When I run out of new books to read, which happens frequently in my house, I return to several favorites, and have recently re-read The Little Prince by Antione De Saint-Expupery (known as Saint - Ex to his friends). Every time I read this book, I notice another line, another description that speaks to me in a way that I had not noticed the last 100 times I read the book. This particular version of the book is special to me as well, it was once part of my grandmother's library and she had marked off various passages that spoke to her; when I read this and come across her notation, I feel that she is with me in the room.

Around page 39, Saint-Ex describes the Little Prince's daily routine on his small planet:

"He carefully swept his active volcanoes. He possessed two active volcanoes and they were very convenient for heating his breakfast in the morning. He also had a volcano which was extinct. But as he pointed out: 'You never know!' So he also cleaned out the extinct volcano...The little prince tore up...the last little baobab shoots...and watered the flower, and then prepared to place her under her glass dome."

The book itself presents a parable of love and attachments, and the importance of appreciating what and who you have in your life. If I were to document my standard morning, it would go something like this:

"She woke up before her alarm, because there was a 14 pound cat sitting and purring on her chest. All attempts to read the morning paper were in vain. She gave her cats T-U-N-A and then fed the street cats outside, who waited not so patiently for their breakfast. Then the water in the bowls needed to be changed, and the excess water was given to the little plant on the porch. The computer, turned on, was checked for email and spam, and then she set up the files for her office that day, before taking a superficial shower. The more substantial shower was to be taken after the one kilometer swim."

We humans revel in our routine, the safety of knowing that certain things must be done, that certain actions recur consistently day after day. I experience a certain peace in waking up in my own bed and running through my morning without thought; and yet, there should be days where responsibility can be chucked out the window, where the world does not collapse into chaos if you switch things around a little, ignore a few items on the list.

It seems I must acquire that skill set, although at the end of The Little Prince, he abandons his quest in the desert and returns to his flower, to his planet and to his beloved chores.

Perhaps he took his cue from TS Eliot, who wrote:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started,
And know the place for the first time.

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