I adore the story of Peter Pan in any form. A Disney animated classic. A stage play. The different perspective of Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman in “Hook”. Or, “Finding Neverland” – the beautiful story of J.M. Berrie, Pan’s creator. I just finished watching “Finding Neverland” with Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet for the hundredth time and was thinking that it was be a good movie to watch with the boys while they were here. (Then, as I buried my face in my hands in sobs at the end I decided we may need to wait on that.)
We all know the story. The boy that didn’t want to grow up so he flew off to a magical land of misfits – pirates and Indians and lost boys. But every night, he’d fly to the nursery window to listen to Wendy tell bedtime stories to her little brothers, John and Michael. As the story goes, Wendy’s father thought the stories were foolish and that Wendy was too old to be in the nursery. Peter is horrified at the thought of Wendy growing up and so he whisks the three children off to Neverland on a grand adventure. At the end of the story, Peter guides the children back to their nursery window on a magical pirate ship. Wendy’s father suddenly remembers seeing the ship when he was a child and the magic and the stories are allowed to continue.
When Grayton and Henry were in Fairhope and very small I loved nights when I’d get to do bedtime. We read stories and turn on the stars on their ceiling. I’d lay in one of their beds and we’d watch the stars dance or whisper to each other until their eyes were too heavy to fight the sleep that was coming, and they drifted off to wherever their dreams would take them.
Do you remember magic? Do you remember looking out your bedroom window at the stars and dreaming big dreams? I think right now we could all use a nursery window and a good story teller.
Last weekend I had the amazing experience of swimming with my two year old nephew, Luc. He was very timid at first and clung tight to his mom. The day was overcast so the water was pretty chilly late in the afternoon and that added to his hesitation. Little by little, Jess loosened her hold on him and eventually he would come to me. Once he saw her relax I think he began to as well. He was wearing a little floaty and holding onto it with all his might. Then it happened. Jess let him go and told him to kick his feet. He did. And, he realized he could not only stay up but he could move around the pool. I’ve never seen such bliss on a child’s face in my life. He was elated. Kicking his little feet and moving back and forth between Jess and myself and then off on his own with us close by. He just kept saying “I svimming Mommy! I svimming, Cebe!”. It was so beautiful, and I realized that I had a huge grin on my face and was just as joy-filled as he was simply by experiencing the moment with him.
Where are you finding your joy these days? Everything is so loud and fast and everyone is so angry. The political climate is – well – I don’t even think I need to say anymore. We work to much and play too little and most of us don’t slow down to see joy and wouldn’t know it if it bit us. There’s a scene in “Finding Neverland” where one of the boys is talking with Mr. Berrie concerning his mother’s illness. The boy is maybe 12 years old. Mr. Berrie watches him and says: “Magnificent. The boy is gone. In the last 30 seconds…you became a grown up.”
In the blink of an eye – childhood can end.
It is not necessary to grow up. I just isn’t. Be responsible? Of course. Take care of our families and jobs and bills? absolutely. Enjoy adult time with friends? No question. But I bet – I just bet – if you looked up a the stars on a clear night you could see your Neverland.
Embrace the children in your lives and look at the world thru their eyes – like you’re seeing it for the first time. It’s wondrous. But, even more than that – let the child inside you live and thrive, however that manifests itself for you. Or, in the words of another dreamer…
Close your eyes. Make a wish. Count to 3.
Now…go to your window and look up. What do you see?