Killing Peter Pan

Posted By on Jan 12, 2015 | 24 comments

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.

How, though?

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.

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.



  1. Love this! I am a female version of Peter Pan, always have been and always will be. At 51 I still see the wonder in everything and have a laugh that can be heard down the hall at work. I am a grandmother who, through my on example, have been teaching my daughters and granddaughters the joy of living. I have a regular 9-5 job and when that is done….I belly dance, draw, play the ukelele and color 🙂

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    • Thank you for sharing this, Tracy. Keep dancing and playing that ukelele. You are one of my inspirations! 🙂

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  2. May you, your wife and the future Peter Pan always have a big smile on your face.

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  3. It’s really quite easy:
    Sprinkle some Pixie dust on yourself and take a right turn at the second star on the Horizen.
    Just keep your mind firmly in reality.
    No really!! :
    It’s easier than sitting in a corner and brooding about the direction the world wants you to go and the consequences that brings.
    BTW, I have thre kids. They are grown now, but I do hope they have watch me fly, and kept Peter alive. I know my grandchildren are living it.
    So…… enjoy the flight !!!

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  4. Ernie, I don’t pay much attention to facebook any more, and if you let us know earlier, I apologize: I missed it. you’re going to be a dad!!??!! I’m SO happy for you. It’s hard to believe that guy who used to come and perform for us at the Depot and refuse, for some silly reason, to do Queensryche, is going to be a father…. I’m really glad, man.
    While I have definitely let the Pan in me fall to the side for the most part, I still have enthused the children in my life for a love of things not-quite-so-adult, and knowing you, I have every faith that you will be able to stretch that bit of you out longer than most of the rest of us.

    Bangarang, Ernie. Bangarang.

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  5. Ha! Those were fun times. More fun times ahead, just different fun. Keep the Pan going, Chris! 🙂

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  6. At 63 I still believe that you may have to grow old but you never have to grow up. People never believe me when I tell them my age. I still go to comiccons and still read and collect comic books. My bedroom is all decorated in Star Trek collectibles. The bathroom is covered with Star Wars collectibles. My favorite philosophy is that you don’t stop playing games because you get old. You get old because you stop playing games.

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    • Thank you for sharing this, Tina. I LOVE STAR WARS, by the way. 🙂

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  7. Has no one shared the secret with you yet? The secret that once you have a child, they suddenly bring back that child-like heart you partly forgot about? It’s a magical thing!

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  8. Krishna*

    I’m with you on this <3
    Let's make a world full of Peter Pans, full of Krishnas and full of Jesuses ~:-)

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  9. An inspiration to the Pan in all of us!
    It’s an important spark to keep alive in kids and adults alike.
    Thanks for the refreshing read!

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    • You’re very welcome, Justin. And thanks for the kind word. 🙂

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  10. What!?!? You’re gonna be a dad?? That’s fantastic news, Ern! I can tell you from my own experience, being a parent has a strange knack for making you feel older and younger at the same time. You’re gonna be a great one.
    As to the Peter Pan Principle (hmmm, that probably didn’t sound quite right), I spent the past eleven years of my life always being the responsible one, always choosing being serious over being silly. When I changed that balance a little last year, I had some odd results – I got instantly more productive, happier and more relaxed all at the same time. If I hadn’t let go and allowed myself a little silliness every now and then, I never would have been able to publish a silly book about my silly childhood – and I would have been less happy because of it.
    Everybody needs to let the little kid in them out from time to time – it makes us better, happier people. Great post, buddy!

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    • Thanks for sharing this, my friend. I really appreciate it. Great example. 🙂

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  11. Congratulations on the marriage and the baby!
    If you go into parenting with the right mind set, having kids just encourages you to play more. Kids are awesome. Even when they are pre-teens like one of mine is now.
    There will be days when you feel more like Hook than Peter, but even Captain Hook still lived in Neverland. 🙂

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    • Ha! I like that last sentence, Tammi! And thank you for the congratulations. One way or the other, it will be a fascinating journey. 🙂

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  12. There will always be this piece of being a child in us. I think most of us would agree that being a kid was easy. It’s one of the best time in a person’s life. Some people find it hard to let go but I think there’s no need. I think clinging to it a bit can make us happier in life. As we grow old, we see that keeping that Peter Pan within actually helps us. 🙂

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  13. Ernest your words inspire me. I spend my life having to deal with “grown-ups”. The older they get the more they feel that the world owes them something and the ruder they become. I also though spend my time surrounded by kids. I go from school to school teaching students about the dangers of drugs, about health in general and also about the dangers of social media. These kids keep me honest and young. They tell me exactly how they are feeling and open their hearts to me in inspiring ways everyday. Far from your new baby taking your Peter Pan away from you I believe that your new bundle of joy will inspire you to reclaim your wonder and freshness of the world. Being a parent of five children has made me realise this. Keep up your great work. Perhaps you could rewrite Peter Pan for us all?

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  14. When I was way younger there was an amazing adult in my life. She was fun living and always played with us kids. One day before she moved away and sadly out of my life, she took me to a park. We sat on the swings and she urged me to go as high as I could. We sat on the swings and talked for hours. Now I probably won’t be able to convey this with the impact on me or how important this was but I will try. The most important thing she taught me that day was to never forget how to swing! To swing with joy and child like abandon. I have carried that with me for almost 30 years. When life gets tough, I try to never forget how to swing. I have taught this same lesson to my sister in law and to my niece and nephew.
    Some years ago now, my life took a big swing. I was diagnosed with a chronic and progressive disease. It took awhile to remember how to swing. But to this day my husband and I sometimes go to the park just to swing. So we don’t forget again.
    I know this was long and probably didn’t really make the point of how important this is to me, but I tried. I guess the moral is to always be Peter Pan and never forget how to just swing.

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  15. Now that I got that done… I don’t Facebook so I may have missed this news earlier.
    Congratulations on your marriage. May you be as lucky as I am and be married to your beat friend!! We have been together for over 23 years now and are still the beat of friends. We love to hang out together and make each other laugh!! I wish this happiness for you both!
    Also, congratulations on the new baby!! It will be exhausting at times, but the smiles, laughter, sense of wonder and joy and love will be awesome!!
    Enjoy each day to its fullest with the ones you love!!

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