Boys will be boys.
Until they can’t be boys anymore.
All my life, I believed in the story of Peter Pan. Not the part where he flies or goes to some outlandish fantasy land where he fights pirates with a bunch of other kids who run their own island. Although the boy in me thinks that would be awesome.
I always believed in the boy Peter Pan truly was. He was a free spirit, never worried about responsibilities of any kind. He lived his life just like a boy should.
For the last x number of years I’ve been on the earth, I’ve considered myself to be a sort of Peter Pan. Even though the responsibilities of bills, student loans, car payments, working an 8 to 4 job, relationships, and several others kept punching their way into my life, I was still a boy.
Even at 39, I still am.
In September of 2014, I got married, testing Peter’s boyhood once more.
In May of 2015, I’ll be having a baby. I can only imagine what that will do to Peter.
The world we live in keeps trying to kill the Peter Pan in all of us, just like Captain Hook tried to kill Peter in the story. Life fires everything it’s got at us from the cannon’s of its menacing ship. Its crew does all it can to bring us down and take us to the grim reality that life isn’t as great as we’d like it to be, that it’s not all just fun and games.
People say funny things about this topic. They tell me that eventually, you have to grow up. That you can’t be a boy your whole life. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to act like an adult.
They, along with so many other events and circumstances in life, are trying to kill Peter Pan.
“Act like an adult,” they say.
Is that really such a good idea? Have adults done so well that they should be modeled?
Adults wage wars, seek power and money, crave vanity, lie to each other, cheat, steal, murder, rape, lust, stress, worry, gossip, hate, and fear.
Think about the things that occupy your mind on a daily basis. What do you obsess about? Go ahead, think about it. I’ll wait….
What are some of those things? Worried about paying bills or having enough money to get through the month? Are you having medical issues? Maybe you lost your job or think that you might. Perhaps you are one of those people who, from the outside, look like they have it all, but on the inside are the loneliest person on the planet.
It’s super easy to focus on things like that. They weigh us down, beat us up, and keep us locked in on the bad in our lives.
I was reconnecting with a friend the other day via social media and noticed that they had pictures of a child who appeared to have gone through chemotherapy.
This young person had bandages on their head, their face looked a little swollen, and all around they looked fairly pitiful…except for one thing.
The child was smiling.
This young person, who I assume is probably close to five years old, looked as happy as they would have on Christmas morning. Contrast that to adults who are in similar, or even way lesser circumstances. I know I would have trouble smiling like that if I was going through cancer treatments.
Yet this child was grinning broadly.
Dr. Joseph Simone and Jane Lyons published an interesting series of findings about cancer in children. You can read it here if you’re interested.
They were doing research to see why children seem to have a higher survival rate than adults when it came to various forms of cancer. Their suggestion was that perhaps young people have better care than adults.
I would say it is something altogether different. And the secret, is in the smile of that child I mentioned before.
Children don’t know what they don’t know. They live freely, love freely, and laugh freely.
They are still Peter Pan.
During Christ’s ministry on Earth, He said that we should all become more like little children. Whether you believe in the Bible or not is irrelevant. The core of that message still rings absolutely true. We should be more like children, like Peter Pan.
Albert Einstein said that he was a much better theorist when he was younger, before he’d grown old and figured everything out. That’s another paraphrase, but it’s pretty close. In other words, Peter Pan was a better scientist than grown up Einstein.
The other day, a friend of mine and I were talking, and she mentioned how I’d recently gotten married and this other guy we’re friends with might be getting married soon. She said the Peter Pans in her life were dying away.
Why does that have to be so?
Can Peter not function in the world? Can he not have a career, a family, and all the other things that only adults have?
Conventional wisdom says no.
But I say yes.
You fight, just like Peter did. And you fight with a smile on your face. You fly through your day, smiling at every challenge, obstacle, and difficulty that comes your way.
You play, play harder than you ever did before. Enjoy moments of free time like they were your last. Feel grateful for them and love them with all your heart.
Focus on the joy of living, rather than the things you believe will make you happy or keep your life stable.
We are only here for a little while on this rock that is hurtling through space. We might as well enjoy as much of it as we can.
Naysayers might tell me, “We’ll see how you feel when you have that baby you mentioned earlier. Then try to live like Peter Pan.”
I will scratch and claw with all my strength to keep from killing Peter, and I want my child to be like him too.
Imagine a world full of Peter Pans, a place where we worked together in harmony, laughed instead of getting angry, loved instead of hated, and where we could reach higher than we ever thought possible.
That sounds like a pretty good place to me.
It can only happen if we stop killing Peter Pan.