I just finished listening to the audio-book of the original version of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. As always, the narration was performed by Mr. Jim Dale, famous for the Harry Potter audio-book series. Once again, He never falls short of my expectations, transporting my imagination to other worlds where I can be part of the story and forget for a while the mundane things of grown up life. This version of Peter Pan is similar to the Disney’s adaptation most of us grew to love since childhood. There is Peter Pan, the flying boy living in Neverland with the lost boys, an Indian tribe, and the pirates with the feared Captain Hook, always chasing Peter Pan and of course Tinkerbell. It is a story filled with adventure and fantasy where children never grow up, living a carefree, innocent life.
But that is all there is, a story isn’t it? We grow old and forget Neverland, forget to dream, and cease to believe. We have forgotten to be that child we once were and now are grownups influenced by society, circumstances, experiences and responsibilities. The care- free, innocence of childhood is gone forever. We grow old, we forget to believe. To believe that we can dream, we can imagine and believe that anything is possible, that we can be whoever we want to be, and have whatever we can imagine. But we can’t see it because we won’t allow us to see. We are grown ups and have to behave like grownups do, like our parents told us, and their parents told them and so on.
We become conscious of what other people might think or say about ourselves, we judge life with our own prejudices and insecurities and let ourselves believe that any grownup thinking or acting like a child will is “weird” not normal. if I am seen acting like a kid, people think I am weird; when I talk about things they might think I am a dreamer living in cloud 9 and if they hear me talking to myself, some might recommend psychiatric evaluation. However, we don’t think like that when we talk about children. We would say “It’s all child’s play” or it’s “just a kid being a kid” and let them be or even not pay attention or dismiss the child because whatever he is doing or saying is considered nonsense, children talk. We conclude that the child is growing up and all this fantasy and dreaming will be forgotten and replaced with the responsibilities and circumstances of becoming an adult, as part of the life cycle.
When did we forget to believe? At what point we as adults forgot what it was like to be a kid again? We go to school, go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house, and have children. It’s all a cycle, but why we forget to believe? When did we leave Neverland?
Now as a parent, I see it from a different perspective. I see my daughter, my nephew, my niece and they are so care free, so innocent like any other child. They play, they pretend they are pirates, princess, astronauts, etc… and they are so happy. How can I make sure that it stays that way? I probably can’t as they need to grow and experience on their own too. But I can encourage and challenge them… to grow, yes, but believing that they can do anything they can imagine and be who they like to be and that no one should ever tell them to stop believing.
They in turn can show me how to be carefree, happy with joy, like a child is. To be innocent with the benefit wisdom to choose my actions, to see the good in people and to let them in my life without prejudices. To be a grownup that enjoys being like a child, without sweating the small stuff, with a sense a humor, indifferent of what others say about me, believing that anything is possible.
J.M. Barrie mention at the end of his book that children will always believe there is a Neverland as long as they are carefree and innocent. I chose to believe too.