Whenever I find that I cannot understand the world as I feel I ought to – or whenever I find that I do … but wish that I didn’t, I decide that I want to escape, and always return to the same place.
Italian philosopher Umberto Eco once said, “To survive, you must tell stories.” I believe him, because every time life chooses to become overbearing, as life inordinately does, I return to the story of Neverland, and I let it nourish my soul as only a dose of agelessness and fairy dust can.
I’m not able to rightly distinguish the first time I realized the power of Peter Pan in my life, but I’m willing to believe it was somewhere in my adolescence … about the same time I realized I would not be young forever. Most children can’t wait to grow up, but I remember, even when I was very little, thinking to myself how I wished I could stay small, and that time was passing entirely too quickly for my liking. From then on, I knew Neverland was the answer.
J.M. Barrie, in his genius, recognized our need to be free … to exist (even for a short while) in a place where time stands still, and the currency of “happy thoughts” is all it costs to fly. Life tends to be slightly more complicated. We grow up and give up – we overwhelm ourselves with important tasks that force us to adopt all the adult behaviors we swore we’d never succumb to. In his novel, Barrie writes, “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.” When did you stop flying? When did I? I find it hard to believe that I would give myself permission to do so, and yet here I am … so grounded. A servant to my schedule, I find that play and pretend often seem so very far away, until I not only forget to fly, but to breathe as well.
Still … Neverland remains, waiting patiently with its pirates, mermaids, and fairies, all on the edge of my imagination, bookmarking itself for my eventual return. When I do find my way back, I dance in the forest with the lost boys, our bare feet matching the rhythm of tribal drums. I play hide-and-seek with the shadows cast by Tinkerbell’s luminescent flutter. In Neverland, I am the heroine of my own story, brandishing bravery and wielding my wild heart to the seasons that shift with Peter’s ever-changing moods.
In Neverland … I am free.
But just like Wendy, something always calls me back, and I must leave behind childhood once more – my solace the same as hers … that the memory of Neverland is enough to sustain me, and I only need to decide I want to be there, to return.
Jodi Lynn Anderson, author of Tiger Lily, brought light to this truth of mine, stating, “I like to think that one day after I die, at least one small particle of me … will float all the way up to Neverland … I like to think that nothing’s final … that you and I are always young in the woods, and that I’ll see you sometime again, even if it’s not with any kind of eyes I know of or understand.” And so when I miss someone – when I miss myself, it is to Neverland that I go, willingly stepping into childish reverie, into a place where forgetting all but the moment is the way of life.
To live with Neverland, to nourish our souls with glimpses of the second star, or first love, fairy dust, and waking dreams … that is to live life to the fullest extent of our imaginations.
* Wait for a clear night … the kind where fading twilight deepens to an inky curtain littered with stars. Look for the second to the right star, and wish on it with every childhood dream your memory carries.
* Read the original novel, Peter Pan, or look up quotes from J.M. Barrie and revel in the depth of his magic. Soak into quotes like, “You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I will always love you; that’s where I will be waiting.” Rediscover the child who never grows up.
* Just as Peter’s emotions bring on different seasons, allow your own fancy to determine the season you wish it to be. Dress for spring in the winter, or honor your perpetual summer heart by banishing anything dark in your wardrobe.
* Find a quiet nook in your yard and create a fairy garden. Furnish it with delicate decor, garnish the space with all things tiny and inviting.
* Refuse to change the battery of a watch that has stopped ticking. Wear it with pride, spitefully allowing this small symbol to prove to the world that time doesn’t own you.
* Sprinkle a bit of “fairy dust” into your makeup regimen. Brighten your eyelids with a shimmer and twinkle befitting Tinkerbell herself.
* Settle into movie marathons mode and watch a series of Neverland inspired films. Immerse yourself in a world where pirates, mermaids, fairies, and lost boys become your very reality.
* Buy yourself a bouquet of Tiger Lilies. Let yourself get lost in their orange brilliance, and remember that wild is beautiful.
* On a bad day, when you’re feeling just a little wicked, imagine you’ve joined Hook’s crew on the Jolly Roger. Draft a list of potential pirate names that suit you.
* As J.M. Barrie once said, “Fairies have to be one thing or the other, because being so small they unfortunately have room for one feeling only at a time.” Think about your feelings one at a time. Let yourself feel in entirety – abandon logic and embrace emotion as a fairy … feel something fully, just this once.
* Find a place where time cannot find you. Close your eyes and take yourself to Neverland. Visualize who you are in the story … where you fit in. Are you a fairy? A lost boy? A native? A villain? Pan himself? Wendy? Where does your tale begin? Consent to a waking-dream.
* Peter once said, “To live will be an awfully big adventure.” Meditate on what really living means to you. Ask yourself whether or not you have been living the life of adventure you were meant to have. If so … keep chasing Neverland … if not, run until you remember how to fly.
Elle Harris is a believer of impossible things. She is a lover of words, wonder, and the whimsical delights of everyday living. Caught in the creative place between reality and imagination is her favorite place to be. Please join Elle in pursuing life with intention, and grand conversation on her blog thisquotablelife.wordpress.com. Find Elle on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @ElleHarris82.