Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Boy, why are you crying?
I've always loved the story of Peter Pan and its various derivations (Hook and Finding Neverland being two of my favorites). Something about a boy who doesn't grow up has always appealed to me. I'm not sure why...
Of all the different variations of Peter Pan that I've seen, I'd actually never read the novel by J.M. Barrie. While hanging out with Red this past weekend she said that I needed to read it and that it'd "change my life".
Already a magical tale, it became more alive as I read the original. Peter was cockier, Tink was feistier, Hook was meaner (but still concerned with "good form"), Wendy more motherlier, the entire story darker and more imaginitive than I could've expected.
While the story didn't change my life it nicely supplimented some thoughts I'd already been having about growing up...
The last two weeks I've been hanging out with a group of college students from Moody Bible Institute. I've always identified myself with high school and college aged students. Even though I'm...uh hum...twenty-eight (letters are easier to look at than numbers), I feel closer to the them than to "adults". I'm sure that is part of the reason that I am in youth ministry.
As I hung out with this group of (primarily) 19-22 year olds, for the first time in my life I realized the real gap between
I didn't like this realization.
I am like Peter Pan.
"I don't want ever to be a man," he said with passion. "I want always to be a little boy and to have fun." (pg. 28)
"Keep back, lady, no one is going to catch me and make me a man." (pg. 174)
I'm pretty sure I've made those exact same statements before. The former to my mom and the latter to a couple girls I've dated.
During a discussion group at an English Camp with the Moody students the question was asked, "Who has the greatest influence on your life?" As we went around and shared I began to wonder: Am I the type of man that is influencing others? Am I a man who is helping to steer young men and women towards Christ? Sometimes I fear that I only care about having fun. I know that I am a fun-maker. I love having fun. But isn't there more to life than just having fun? Too often I choose fun over discipline and find myslef having lots of friend, but maybe little impact...
I don't want to give up having fun, but I also don't want that to be the only characteristic that defines me. I want to be a man who has profound impact on individuals.
There are numerous other things though, that I continue to love about Peter Pan and this story. What inspired me so much about Finding Neverland was Barrie's recalcitrance towards those who are trying to crush the imaginative nature of children. There is something magical about the way children think outside the box. They haven't been indoctrinated by society of the "oughts" and "ought nots" of life. They can make a common stick a sword and a t-shirt a dress. There are no boundries to the imagination of a child.
Yet, there comes a time when we grow out of it. For those who do it sooner than others, we ridicule and mock the younger ones around us who dwell in the land of pirates, dinosaurs, and elegant balls. And as adults we feel like we need to correct the children and help them to see life "as it is".
My favorite passage of the book speaks to this:
"Mrs. Darling first heard of Peter when she was tidying up her children's minds. It is a nightly custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for the next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day. If you could keep awake (but of course you can't) you would see own mother doing this, and you would find it very interesting to watch her. It is quite like tidying up drawers. You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents, wondering where on earth you had picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight. When you wake in the morning, the naughtiness and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind; and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out your prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on."
I want to keep writing. I want you to experience the mind of Barrie as he unlocks a childs mind for us again, but I can't write the whole book out because, well, (a) it'd take to long, and (b) there may be copywrite infringements, so I'll just have to urge you to read it yourself.
As for me, I find myself trapped somewhere between Neverland and Adulthood. Longing to hold tight the tension between the innocent freedom of dreaming and playing and the responsibility to be a man who impacts others and lives in maturity.