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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Peter Pan

Unbeknownst to most people, even the men who really are affected by it, resides a special little place in the male psyche. It probably exists in both sexes, but, I think that the female of our species are given more freedom to acknowledge and express it. Since I claim no special knowledge of the feminine condition, I keep my observations to the guys.
The male being is raised from a very early age to be strong. We learn that public expression of emotion is a sign of weakness, and that success in life comes from being tough. Every effort is made to have us grow up, toughen up, and become men as early as possible. We are taught that we must live in the real world, and it is a cruel place. So, it is no surprise that this little place in our consciousness, of which I speak, gets obscured early in our lives. I think the best description I’ve ever heard is that this is our “inner child”. It is the place where unregulated imagination and complete make-believe lives. We can be or do anything any time, we are invincible, and we have no one to whom we must answer. Even though we often refuse to acknowledge him, he plays out in our lives every day. The list of activities is so vast it defies definition; it is unique to each of us. Be it sitting at our job, day dreaming for a few minutes about what might be, risking our lives in some activity that we know is dangerous, or something as simple as taking our children to a movie, our “inner child” finds ways to express himself, and so often we are completely unaware of his presence. For those of you, who have children, ask yourself the next you take them to a movie; why are you there? If you are honest with yourself, I think you may be a little surprised at the answer.

So now you are asking yourself, how does this have anything to do with Peter Pan, or even with Walt Disney? Well a little over 100 years ago a novelist and playwright, consciously or not, tapped into that place in our hearts, the “inner child”. In 1902 J.M. Barrie brought to life a young mischievous and magical boy whose life was the non-stop adventure of youth. Peter Pan lived his life with abandoned pleasure and happy thoughts secure in the comforting knowledge that he would never have to become a grown up. I don’t know without reservation if that is the wish of every man; though I suspect it true, but I can honestly say that would be my dream. A half century later, another dreamer brought the story to life through animation. As with many Walt Disney animated telling of classic fairy tales, his Peter Pan was told with much of the darkness of the original story excised.

Why am I so drawn to Peter Pan? As I have already said, my infatuation with one Ms. Bell started at a very early age, and I am sure that is one of the tugs I feel for Walt Disney’s “Peter Pan”, but I realized some time ago that there is more. In my twenties and thirties I did the grown up thing, I succumbed to the expectations of society and my peers for me to be the adult male I was suppose to become. I met the love of my life in my twenties. 25 years and two children later, she is still the love of my life and the one constant that has allowed become the person I am today. Even through the struggles that are a part of any life, we’ve had a good life together. Even so, there was something was something missing which for the longest time I eluded my understanding. As I began introspection of my life, a light in the distance began to glow, slowing growing in intensity until it became a clear vision emblazoned on my brain. For a multitude of reasons, I had lost touch with my inner child early in life; more accurately, I had banished him to the nether regions of my existence. In essence, I had settled for the life that others told me was mine. While I tried at every opportunity to better that life, for me and for those I love, it was a life that was the expectations of others, not mine. As the vision crystallized, at first there was anger, anger at the people that had done this to me. Then, finally, a realization that I had allow it to happen to me. It was about this time that my real interest in Walt Disney began flourish. I don’t know if I fully comprehended at the time, but, it was now that I began re-acquaintance with that inner child I had so long ago lost.

Over the last couple of years, my inner child and I have become much better friends, and I have learned that he really is Peter Pan, or at least he wants to be Peter. I’ve also discovered that he and I can peacefully co-exist as long as we remember… We really do need each other. All this because one man had the vision to create a character to whom all, especially men, can relate, and another the vision to tell that story as only he could. Thank you J.M. Barrie and Walt Disney for helping me to make sense of my life.

Your comments or questions are always welcome. If you have a correction or something you think I should look at in my research, please feel free to contact me at

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