A friend of mine posted the image above on Facebook today, showing the lovely David Bowie smiling up on Asteroid B-612, home of The Little Prince.
I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't follow David Bowie's career that closely. I've read numerous tributes and touching messages since his passing three days ago, and I feel like a bit of an imposter by how touching I've found them. Can you mourn someone you never met, who you never even knew much about? Perhaps not.
I'd loved him as Jareth, The Goblin King, in Labyrinth. I'd enjoyed watching the occasional interview. I knew the lyrics to "Let's Dance." But I didn't know the extent of his impact, his personas, the worlds he created and now has left behind.
I do know something about The Little Prince because it's one of my favorite books. Written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, it's about an aviator who crashes in the desert, where he meets The Little Prince, visiting Earth from B-612. He lives alone on his planet, with only a beautiful and arrogant rose for company. On days when he is sad, he moves his chair a few steps at a time across his little planet to watch the sun set, over and over. One day, he leaves his planet to travel and meets, successively, a king, a vain man, a drunk, a businessman, a lamppost lighter, and a geographer, who finally suggests he travel to Earth. He spends a year on our planet, taming a fox, climbing a mountain, and asking for a pet sheep to bring home with him. Then, when B-612 comes around again a year later, he finally goes home. And the aviator remembers him by looking up at the stars in the night sky, imagining them laughing softly.
My favorite line in the entire book is not actually from the story itself, but from the dedication: "Toutes les grandes personnes ont d'abord été des enfants. (Mais peu d'entre elles s'en souviennent.)" This means, All grown-ups were first children. (But few of them remember it.)
Sometimes, particularly if I am feeling sad, I think to myself: I would like to be one of those grown-ups who do.
Just like David Bowie.