Just last week in Melbourne (Australia), I watched “Le Hérisson“, a French film based on a book written by Muriel Barbery, titled, “L’élégance du Hérisson”. The elegance of the hedgehog: covered with short and stiff spiny quills, yet cute and indolent. Like all the French films that I’ve seen, this one was interesting and perhaps has a hidden message, or at least something to think about. It talked about life and death, not just in the eye of an adult, but from a child who’s barely twelve. What triggered me to write was the fact that we could all be like the hedgehog; a mysterious hedgehog.
First impressions count, many would say. But, what’s first impression without understanding of the person? Can we read or know a person at the first glance? At first sight, I am a snob, or at least a person that would be hard to get along with. But, if and when we become friends, then I seem to be quite cool a friend and different to what previously perceived. When I was first told about this, I didn’t know if I should be pleased or upset. I’ve always thought that I’m nice and I’d like to be perceived as the nice person, a popular girl who’d everyone want to befriend. But, perhaps I have been a tad too cautious with “new people” and hence had my quills upright?
Would I have looked like the image below?
I have known people who look tough, cold and distant, but once I get to know them, they’re pretty vulnerable on the inside, and would like to get close to people around them. Little Lucy keeps most of her thoughts and turmoils within herself, although sometimes, when she’s terribly upset or unhappy, it really does seem to show, and transmitted to others, but…all along, feels misunderstood and lonely. Angela’s a very successful, outgoing and happy girl; miss popular who seems to get what she wants, but, struggling with her inner self all the time and blaming herself. Miriam is about to get married, but worries for what the future lies ahead and if it’s really what she wants, though she doesn’t really want to talk about it and pushes it aside; let’s celebrate other things in life and leave that till later.
In the movie, none of the aristocrats cared for the janitor, who’s just another burly, low person doing cleaning and maintenance of the building. Her story was told by none. Her happiness was cared by none. Her life was known by none. It is only because people cared and tried to know her that her life changed for the happier. That she was remembered when she died, and not just left on the street for others to stare at.
In a world where we strive to be the better one to survive, and in a world where we’re taught to not trust a person completely, wouldn’t our defenses be up all the time? Wouldn’t we want to show what we want others to think of us? To hide what we’re feeling inside? Or to project a winner, or a better person? How many personalities or hats do we have? Do we care about me/you? Should we care?
We all have our soft spots, and we all have a side of us that is little (or none) known to others. Not only ourselves, but also others around us, even our close friends. It takes just one small step to care for the person who lives just next door, or one story to share with someone to create a better understanding of what the other person feels or need. Just like you and me, the person next to you is a mysterious hedgehog.