Why I Never Want To Grow Up!
A Journey Through Neverland
We all loved stories growing up. Some that made us laugh, others that frightened us, and those that helped us undertsand the world around us. But we all have one story in particular that shaped who we have become as people. And if you know me, you know that I absolutely cannot miss my opportunity to tell the world about my obsession with the playful, mischevious, tights-wearing adventurer: Peter Pan. And most importantly, how the magical stories of Neverland impact my life, mindsets, and behaviours, even to this very moment.
It all began in an ex-council property in western london, in the center of a small crescent crowded with red-brick houses and small appartment blocks. It was the kind of street that wouldn't be considered rough or dangeorus by any conventional standards, but you'd not exactly leave your push-bike out the front of your house either. Or let your kids veer too far from ear-shot for that matter. Come to think of it, that little jungle of poorly-parked cars, council properties, and scruffy gardens had some tales to tell of it's own... but perhaps that's for another day.
Within one of these brick-boxes, a young boy with an active imagination and an unhealthy amount of energy (not to mention temper) had finally driven his parents mad, and was sitting infront of the TV on a green floral sofa (yeah, they know...) for a few moments of quiet time. Against his better judgement, of course, and, for fear of that stinging red patch left on the arse from dad's slipper if he were to carry on.
To my reluctant five year old brain (under duress, at that) the movie seemed kinda boring to start with, opening with an awkward school play over a soft piano soundtrack, but then all of a sudden... it really wasnt. Very soon after the intro scene, that childish bundle of mischief and destruction became a cute young man, entranced and encapsulated by the world of Captain Hook and Neverland. There was the prettiest woman ever with magical fairy dust that made you fly (see what I did there?), and adventurous kids darting around the forest with swords and ropes and bows and arrows.
There was action, fun, and most importantly, freedom. Freedom from ageing, freedom from consequence, freedom from rules. In fact, the one oppressive force of the movie were the adults, with their lack of childish glee and a need for jealous, resentful vengeance over the fact.
The movie I'm talking about is of course Hook, and if you haven't seen it, we simply cannot be friends. You need to go away, take a long hard look in the mirror, ask yourself what you've done wrong in your life, and then go watch it immediately before ever coming back to the internet. I mean it, GO!
But seriously, this adventurous romp through Neverland as Robin Williams rediscovers his inner child while combatting the endless efforts of Dustin Hoffman (as Captain Hook) and Bob Hoskins (as Mr Smee) sparked in me a love for Peter Pan that to this day, twenty five years later, will never die.
As a child I wished to be whisked away to Neverland to sword fight in the forest with my friends, outwitting Hook and his pirate buddies as we played on in youthful innocence forever. We'd never age, we'd never follow rules, we'd sleep in swinging hammocks and dream up whatever food we fancied and it'd appear right before us. We'd fly across oceans and rivers with Tink and Peter and never be afraid to fall. We'd never be called for dinner, or say goodnight to our friends. We'd never be late for class or have to go to bed.
And the funny thing is now that I sit here typing this, there's still a part of me somewhere, buried beneath the stresses and responsiblity of adulthood, that has a glimmer of hope for such a place. A moment in time where I'll be awoken in the middle of the night by Julia Roberts scantily dressed in fairy attire (Good Lord!) and flown to a magical place where time stands still. A place where I'll be reminded of my adventures as a child, fighting against the iron fist of boring, mundane, adult life.
But dreams aside for a moment, Peter Pan inspired in me a youthfulness that I will never let go. Life, as it unfolds around me, is as much an adventure as any trip through Neverland could ever be. At the ripe old age of thirty, with two children, a job, and more grown-up dreams than I care to admit, if there's a pile of leaves you can bet a year's wage I'll front-flip in. A particularly cool tree will be climbed. Hell, there's nothing even remotely sword-shaped that won't be picked up and swung toward my brother or my children to initiate a brief sword fight... much to the dismay of any stores that sell wrapping paper.
I'm often hard to understand by others, with my blasé nature and 'let it go' philosophies, but I have in me a youthfulness that keeps me alive. It keeps my children laughing and my partners intrigued and my friends on their toes, and I wouldn't change it for anything in the world.
The message within Peter Pan is not a difficult one. It's not a mysterious, deeply-hidden theme that needs decoding by literary buffs and scholars. It's plain, simple, and as old as time itself. Keep that inner-child alive. Stay young, stay active. Play fight, laugh, go on adventures, stay up later than you should and act stupid with your friends. Despite any spiritual notions or religious hang-ups, for all we know we are here one time, and it's not for monthly figures and budget checks.
I realised a long time ago that the meaning behind life is to live it. Fully. Embrace it. Fully. Laugh, cry, shout, argue, make up, run, jump, fall, learn, taste, smell, see, explore, and then do it all over again! Run through woodlands and jump fallen trees, swim in the ocean and bob over the waves. Dance in the rain and take a peak over that cliff edge. Feel the sharp winds cut against your face. That feeling right there, that is life.
But then of course, we mustn't forget the lesson that Hook teaches us as an antagonist to the story, either. For Peter Pan and Neverland cannot exist without him. What would they even do, what would their purpose in that world be, were it not for his sobering presence? We are as much in need of Hook's mundane, boring, adult responsibility as we are Pan's playful nature.
The magic of Neverland, I found, as much as in real life itself, is in the balance.
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About the author
An avid writer from the UK with a passion for words! Whether I'm posting my musings to social media or creating longform content for the masses, You can bet I'm somewhere trying to make sense of this wonderful chaos we call the universe.