Thursday, August 9, 2012

Clap If You Believe

For to have faith is to have wings.
-Sir J.M. Barrie

I just finished reading a reprint of the original 1911 Peter and Wendy, otherwise known as Peter Pan. I feel like I am scraping the bottom of the sundae glass with a long spoon. The story was so rich and fulfilling, but too enjoyable to end. Even though everyone knows the ending, they probably don’t know the whole story. At least, I didn’t before today.

The boy who never grew up character was based on author Sir J.M. Barrie’s older brother who died in an accident. Barrie grew up in his brother’s shadow, constantly competing with a memory for the love and attention of his broken hearted mother. The lost boy characters were based on the children of the author’s friends. Barrie later adopted and raised the orphans when their parents died.

I have never read a story that better describes the selfless, faithful, unconditional love of motherhood. It was also impressive that a story written more than 100 years ago still accurately describes the role some fathers feel relegated to in their homes. Mr. Darling, Wendy’s dad, worked hard to support his family. But he felt like even the dog (Nana) got more affection and concern than he did. When his children disappeared to Neverland, he blamed himself and took to living in “the dog house”. The book revealed insights into why Captain Hook was always at odds with Peter. In the original story, Hook was well bred and educated at the best schools. A man consumed by ambition. His chief concern was other people’s opinions of whether he was acting in “good form”. He was constantly being hunted by the ticking of time itself. In the final battle, the swords were not just drawn between Peter Pan and a pirate. The battle was between all the vain sins of adulthood and childlike innocence.

“Pan, who and what art thou?” he cried huskily.
“I’m youth, I’m joy” Peter answered at a venture. "I'm a little bird that has broken out of it's egg."

I loved how in Barrie’s version, the lost boys went to live with Wendy and her family. I loved how when they left Neverland, all the children grew up. 

You may see the twins and NIbs and Curly any day going to an office, each carrying a little bag and an umbrella. Michael is an engine driver. Slightly married a lady of title. You see that judge in a wig coming out at the iron door? That used to be Tootles.

When the children left the magical home of mermaids and Neverbirds, they forgot how to fly. Tinker Bell could survive swallowing the most potent poison, but would perish in an instant if children didn’t believe. Which raises the question, if Neverland represents our imaginations, do fairies represent childlike faith? Forgive me if this is a silly question, I have been a grown up for a very long time and can't fully remember. Did we once have unwavering faith in the power of our imaginations?

What do you BELIEVE in?

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