There hasn’t been much of the fairy tales I was told as a child that have become more meaningful as I’ve grown up. Lots of my childhood heroes were Disney princess and their stories haven’t exactly inspired much beyond maybe singing. Peter Pan, however, is one of the few where something has stuck with me, not the actual story really but the place.
This bubble of joy and ease where nothing bad except Captain Hook and the occasional visit from a crocodile could get through. Peter Pan made me believe in a place where we could run when the real world outside was too intense, scary and was pushing us beyond where we were comfortable going. Like growing up. The story doesn’t exactly encourage us to act like Peter Pan and run away from the world, but sometimes it’s tempting. Sometimes we want a place to pause time and be absorbed in that moment forever.
As I’ve gotten older, this idea of Neverland has become more and more tantalizing. Every time there’s a big change, I yearn to find a place of permanence to stabilize myself. A place where no one leaves, no one dies and no one fights because it has this impenetrable barricade around it keeping out all cares and woes.
There’s still a part of me that craves the comfort of permanence and immutability, being now in that phase of my life where everything is changing. Sometimes I want to close my eyes and hold onto this moment, this one slippery moment that I can feel sliding out of my hands the harder I try to hold onto it. This is the side that wants to run away to the second star to the right and straight on ’til morning.
But there’s also the wiser part of me that recognizes the inevitability of change and pushes the more cautious, timid side to embrace it. It’s the side that reminds me that the mutability of life is what makes it beautiful, and what makes it precious.
But change is scary and unknown, which is likely what makes it scary. And as my world changes and shifts around me like high-speed tectonic plates creating a mountain range, I need something to hold onto until I can let go of one mountain and step across to the next one forming in front of me, instead of running away and retreating to a far off land like Peter Pan. What I hold onto is a small part of myself that remains constant when nothing else really seems to.
I am the only permanent fixture in my life, a simple realization that has taken me too long to come to as I grope around for external constancy. People and places have come and gone, and will come and go, and they will teach me and shape me and redefine me as many have done already. The world will swirl on outside of me and inside of me, but there will always be some small part that remains constant, that I can hold onto as I bump and bruise myself to get to that next mountain.
I guess that’s the more realistic but no less elusive Neverland, that it’s some small part of myself that will probably always stay the same. It’s not a retreat to some foreign, exotic land. It’s not a hideout from the real world. It doesn’t have fairies or Lost Children or mermaids and it doesn’t prevent me from growing up. It actually helps me grow up, to realize that while everything can and does change, there can still be some form of permanence to act as a walking stick, to keep me more or less stable on the ground.
Until Next Time,