Lost Neverlands

I think too much. I know that. But, I’ve been thinking a lot about childhood and how growing up is a constant process. It’s not like you grow from childhood to adulthood and you’re done. Even once you’re an adult the process is eternal, though we usually term them “life lessons” or some crap. It has been on my mind because I’m trying to inflict another life lesson on myself and get myself out of the rut I’m in and become a better, more complete person in the process.

Well, who is the symbol of not growing up? Peter Pan! So, I’m rereading the original book and came across a line that really saddened me. The author, J.M. Barrie, is talking about the various Neverlands in our minds and wrote this:

“We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.”

It hit me right in what passes for my heart. It’s like those places we visit in childhood can never be visited again. Granted, if an adult goes around acting like a complete child, hiding in hardboard boxes, pretending he’s a pirate, running from the boogeyman, and so on, he should be an actor and getting paid for it, playing with his children, or we lock him up. But there’s something terribly sad to me about losing touch with that inner child, with that sense of wonder we experienced every day, that explosion of imagination we had at the smallest things, when, for even the briefest of moments, we actually believed that we were cat-beings from another planet, or that we had super powers, or that we were wizards with griffins for pets. It doesn’t matter what the actual dream was, because for a moment it was real, and maybe that’s the Neverland that J.M. Barrie was talking about. That’s where we will never land again — in that place of impossibility.

To be disconnected from that forever is both disheartening and a little scary. Call me stupid, call me pretentious — I may be both — but losing that seems like losing our pathways to the infinite. What are our adult, grownup Neverlands? Winning the lottery? Being famous? Having a beautiful romance that sweeps you off your feet? Those things have their merits, but I have a feeling that Peter Pan would be disappointed in us.

As adults we are taught what is possible, what is recommended, and — worst of all — what we cannot do. With this last, our tickets to Neverland are taken from us until all we have is the memory of its forests and jungles and the echoing sound of its waves.

I’m reminded of another quote, this one by Shirley Jackson:

“No live organism can continue for long to exist under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.”

Reality can be awesome. It can be an amazing place; it’s like a nest you tend to on your own and are ultimately responsible for — you’re the one living in it, after all. But I agree with Shirley Jackson. Absolute reality kills the mind. I think that’s where fiction comes in. It allows us controlled madness. We are transported to someone else’s Neverland, whether we call that place Narnia, Hogwarts, Manhattan, Hollywood, the moon, another planet, anywhere fiction can take you (which is truly anywhere), and it doesn’t matter if you get there through a book, a movie, your own imagination, or a dream.

For that time, you are indulging in your own madness, you have your ticket to Neverland back. If you are a writer or an artist or a movie maker, you can make your own Neverland and allow people to join you there. Or you can escape there whenever you want and not share — my own lamentable writing habits are an example of this. I hope to never lose touch with my own Neverlands. I hope to be able to believe that I am a wizard with a cat-person from another planet as my friend. If I don’t believe it as a writer, how can I make YOU believe it?

Honestly, though, my motivations are so much more selfish than that. I need to grow up, to have those “life lessons” we all go through, but without that insanity, without that bit of madness in my life, I’m not sure what I would do or if I could even function. Some Neverlands are lost, but not all. Never all.

As the Cheshire Cat said, “We’re all mad here.”

~ by Darren Endymion on March 17, 2016.

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