Friday, June 1, 2012

Peter Pan

This is by far one of my favorite books of all time. I love everything about it. J.M. Barrie was a genius even if he was a little mad at times.  I am determined to read this book to my children and recommend it to anyone who will read it. The introduction at the beginning, by Jack Zippes, states "It is a self-help book written by a doctoring author for those adults who have lost touch with their imagination and need to regain it through a re-introduction to children's imaginative play." I believe the best medicine is preventive medicine. So I love books like Peter Pan. I hope I never forget to imagine things. I hope I never become too serious.

*Spoiler Alert

Peter and Wendy and Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens are both extremely tragic. Even more so than being out of milk after eating a large piece of chocolate cake. Down-right lethal even. However, I am a huge fan of tragic movies and books. What can I say? My family has a morbid streak. It is not the pirates, Hooks vengeful mind or even when Wendy, John and Michael begin to forget their parents that is so tragic as all the things Peter is missing out on by not growing up. He forgets things. People, sorrow, love and many other things. I can see some reasons why Peter might have rejected social conventions. Adults failed him. So many adults are filled with sorrow and discontent. They forget to find joy in the small things. For "there is almost nothing that has such a keen sense of fun as a fallen leaf." They forget to revisit realms they use to fly through on a daily basis as children.  They are plagued by the "What-Ifs" of life. Peter just forgets. He had a mother once. He ran away. She waited for a very long time for her child to come back to her, to leave the island in Kensington Garden behind. Eventually Peter tried to return. He found bars on the windows and a new child had taken his place. Returning to the gardens he became a guide for lost children. "It makes him especially kind to the House-Swallows when they visit the island, for the house-swallows are the spirits of little children who have died. They always build in the eaves of the houses where they lived when they were humans, and some-times they try to fly in at a nursery window, and perhaps that is why Peter loves them best of all birds."  He helps children to love, trust and be loved in a tumultuous but nurturing environment (1).
After many adventures in Neverland Peter was invited to become part of Wendy's family. He refused. Sad but resigned to respect his wishes she, the lost boys, her brothers and her parents (we can't forget Nana) began to laugh (and bark) and play and "there could never have been a lovelier sight; but there was none to see it except a little boy who was staring in at the window. Peter had ecstasies innumerable that other children can never know; but he was looking through the window at the one joy from which he must be forever barred." He didn't have a family. That is the greatest tragedy of all.  If I had to brave this dangerous grown-up world, suffer tragedy after tragedy, work day after day in a black hole, be a victim of extreme physical pain and anguish nevertheless surrounded by the love of my family or never grow-up, live in a magical land and know no fear or sorrow but without a family I would chose family. I am unwilling to give up my ability to love. I don't believe we have to give up imagination to grow up. I have faith that this life doesn't have to be devoid of fairies, adventure or flight. "For to have faith is to have wings." I just think, the longer we live, the more adventures we can have. To love is an awfully big adventure in itself. "Perhaps we could all fly if we were dead-confident-sure of our capacity to do it as was brave Peter Pan that evening."

Try this.

"If you shut your eyes and are a lucky one, you may see at times a shapeless pool of lovely pale colours  suspended in the darkness; then if you squeeze your eyes tighter, the pool begins to take shape, and the colours become so vivid that with another squeeze they must go on fire. But just before they go on fire you see the lagoon. This is the nearest you ever get to it on the mainland, just one heavenly moment; if there could be two moments you might see the surf and hear the mermaids singing."

I want my children to always believe in fairies (I still do). I want them to see mushrooms and know that they are "fairy chairs that the servants have forgotten to clear away." To stare at flowers long enough to see them wink (as Fairies often do). I want them to hear the sighs of a thousand ancient stars. I hope they do. I want to see their first laugh break "into a million pieces and skip about" and take the shape of a fairy.  I hope they never kill their fairy with disbelief.

(1) - Jack Zippes
(2) - A whole bunch of quotes from Peter Pan
(3) - P.S. The 2003 version of Peter Pan directed by P.J. Hogan is one of my favorite movies. I recommend it :) It has a lot of quotes from the book :)

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