Who knew baobabs could be dangerous? Coming from Madagascar, a country known for its majestic baobabs, I certainly didn’t. One of my favorite books, The Little Prince (1943) by French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, tells the adventures of a little boy from a different planet who visits Earth and attempts to make friends. The Little Prince teaches, among others, this one “lesson”: beware of the danger of metaphorical baobabs. He explains that when they are young, baobabs closely resemble rosebushes, and that it is necessary to pull them up as soon as possible lest they overgrow and destroy one’s planet.
My own garden was covered in weeds at some point during lockdown. I had failed to take care of it in due time, and removing those unwanted plants turned out to be arduous. I remember saying to myself: “this is a baobab situation, the Little Prince was right, there are matters that should not be put off”! But the tragedy of the baobabs also spoke to me on an even more personal level. The pandemic had amplified my anxieties and insecurities. I had not seen a single relative or friend in months. Since I decided to take a sabbatical before the pandemic began, I had not been in contact with students, either. I was alone with all my fears.
I needed to regularly manage the baobabs of doubts and uncertainty to ensure the sanity of my planet and my soul. That is a glimpse of how this text has travelled with me, and I am curious to know how it will resonate later on in my personal journey!