In Saint-Exupéry’s “The Little Prince”, the little prince talks about the rose he has been looking after.
“To be sure, an ordinary passer-by would believe that my very own rose looked just like you, but she is far more important than all of you because she is the one I have watered. And it is she that I have placed under a glass dome. And it is she that I have sheltered behind a screen. And it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except for the two or three saved to become butterflies). And it is she I have listened to complaining or boasting or sometimes remaining silent. Because she is my rose.”
Can you ever “park” the personal? Can you ever set aside the “subjective”?
In “The Little Prince”, the rose which the prince looks after means so much more to him than any other rose. Isn’t this an essential truth about one of the ways in which we experience difference in this world? We develop personal relationships. We don’t just form personal relationships with other people, but with other creatures, with certain plants, trees, even with certain inanimate objects. Children often form intense attachments with particular objects – a blanket, a teddy bear, a soft toy. Does this phenomenon disappear? Or do we just move our attachments to other “more grown up” objects – a pen, a car, a favourite cup?
Could you make a list? Could you describe the people, places, creatures or objects which you are particularly attached to? The ones which mean the most to you? You’ll find that your list is very specific – and very different from anyone else’s.