In this summer of Batman and Spiderman, of taking down the bad guys while sporting a costume with coordinating tights; I’m putting in my two cents for Peter Pan.
No, it’s not his leafy green tunic and tights, his Robin Hood cap, or devil-may care attitude. If this were a fashion contest, Peter definitely would have been ‘voted off the island’.
He’s not even a super hero.
But he can fly. And the ability lies not in his costume or a molecular mutation in his DNA, but in the power of his imagination. Peter Pan can fly because he believes he can. And this power is not limited to him. Beyond the magic of Neverland, in a REAL children’s nursery in London, he demonstrates to Wendy, John, and Michael Darling how they can fly. He teaches them to think “lovely, wonderful thoughts.”
This notion lies deeper than sheer willpower and the strength of positive thinking. What children so often have in abundance is unfettered faith combined with unencumbered creative impulses. They can hitch their wagon to a star, make castles out of sand, and a feast of bread and butter.
Peter Pan symbolizes this childlike wonder, its power and draw. Peter embodies, literally embodies, eternal youth.
And it is not a world without peril. Dangers lurk in many corners and take many forms. Peter and the Lost Boys are able to stave off many a doom by using their wits and imagination. Evil is personified in the ever pursuing angry and vengeful Captain Hook. His long metal claw for an arm and his booming commands to “walk the plank” left me petrified as a kid.
I can remember a recurring nightmare from which upon waking, I was certain that I still saw Captain Hook leering at me from the hallway in his full pirate regalia. It was even more frightening as I couldn’t get up and get past him to awaken my parents in their room to alert them, in case I were to be taken away, never to be seen or heard from again.
Luckily, I grew out of that dream.
Of course, with the wisdom of years, we all come to know (hopefully), the limitations of never growing up. But Peter Pan reminds us to not give up our child’s eye in the process. Children keep wide their vision of what’s possible, adventure can be found in a backyard and dreams can be solid fodder. The darkness doesn’t overwhelm forever. Peter Pan, unlike our favorite super heroes, it not a savior. He is not rescuing us from the dark night. He rather provides a way of seeing, a way to pierce through and around the darkness.
Quote for the day: “I tell you the truth; anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” – Mark 10:15 and Luke 18:17