There is a song on the radio right now that has caught my attention. The lovely, melancholy Ruth B. sings of lost boys and Neverland and the search for home and family. “Lost Boy” tells the story of a sad boy who is visited by Peter Pan, who promises him he will never be lonely if he flies with him to Neverland, and ever since that day, he is never bored. His forlorn life is no more because he now has a family of other lost boys who play in the woods with Tinkerbell and Wendy Darling. He has finally found home.
Don’t we all have this wish? Neverland and Peter Pan give us a glimmer of hope that just a sprinkling of fairy dust will allow us to once again trust in magic and enchanted adventures. We want to clap our hands and believe in fairies. We long for love, people who will accept us, flaws and all.
Our reality is too harsh, too intense, too frightening. There are monsters under every bed. We wander the streets, searching for connections, but our heads are hypnotized by the glare of our phones. We are all lost boys. Our hearts are empty. Our souls despondent. If a promise of peace landed on our windowsills, we would seize it and never let go, but instead, we are ghosts of what we used to be.
Where is the magic? Is it lost? Has our innocence been sucked out of us forever? Why is the real world so discordant and off-balance? It’s as though we all have vertigo. A sense of nausea consumes us every time we spy a violent news story or hear a hateful discourse.
But even in Neverland there lurks danger. Captain Hook wants Peter Pan dead. Crocodiles hide just beneath the surface. Jealous pixies seek revenge. The woods aren’t safe. Wendy and her brothers eventually give up their adventures to come back home. They soon forget how to fly because they no longer believe. As Wendy’s mother says, “When people grow up they forget the way…It is only the gay and innocent and heartless who can fly.”
So perhaps there is the answer. When we are children we believe in all sorts of magic because we are heartless, meaning we haven’t yet learned how to wound. We don’t know how to hurt, how to scathe, how to harm. But with each year we collect arrows and barbs and other weapons that pierce those around us. We begin to doubt ourselves and our ability to believe. Our hearts grow heavy, and eventually we don’t remember when we could fly. We have lost our way, and no GPS will deliver us back to those innocent moments of gaiety and play.
Peter Pan never grew up, and even though he hung onto the wonders of childhood, he never knew the preciousness that is adulthood. Our grownup ways can be scary, but I am still grateful for most of it. I’ve grown wiser and fiercer with each birth, death, milestone, and heartache. Being a grownup is messy business. There is no manual. Most of us stumble through it blindly. We often long for those days of pure freedom, but we know we can’t go back. Our creaky bones won’t allow us to hang upside down on the jungle gym bars any longer. Yet, we still see enchantment in the laughter of our grandchildren, the surprise of dazzling fireworks, and the hope that love still exists. We still fly in our dreams.