I have always held an exclusive fascination for Peter Pan, the boy who defied time. Growing up made me realise just how much the eternal boy taught me about life, time and the inevitability of it all.
The first time I gave the concept of ‘growing up’ a thought was when I had my 20th birthday. Shrugging off my teens was a pretty heavy blow for me, for some reason. While all my peers had bought their first car I still seemed to be stuck in my 16th year, waving my friends on from the gloomy bus stop when they offered me a lift. I realised then that subconsciously I wasn’t keeping up with time. It was literally flying and I had somehow forgotten to board the plane.
When I turned 24, I quit my job in search of adventure. I travelled, met people, saw places and probably learnt more in a year than I had done in the previous 23 years of existence. Even then, I remember asking myself before I left, “Do I have the time for this?” like Alice’s white rabbit was chasing me with his loudly ticking pocket watch. Of course I had time! I had all the time in the world. And yet, I remember feeling that slight pinching somewhere inside when it seemed that all my social media friends were either getting married or pregnant. Or both. While I was either stuffing myself with my flatmate’s brownies or curing a hangover. Probably both. I felt like it was happening again, like time had gotten on a train without me and left me somewhere in my 20th year.
Peter Pan came to the rescue then. No, he didn’t swoop down from the second star to the right to take me to Neverland where I would never, ever have to see another wrinkle or grey hair again. Rather, he taught me two very important lessons (and no, one of them was not flying. Alas.)
1. Live. Now.
In a way, we are all like Peter Pan: We will never be younger or more beautiful than we are today. So whatever it is you have to do, do it and do it now. Don’t wait till you’re older and wiser. Time has the uncanny ability to make you think one way today and another the next (not to mention the fact that it is killing you slowly). So go, grab every thread of opportunity and make it yours. Time will not wait for you. It has its own things to worry about. So why should you?
2. “To live would be an awfully big adventure.”
This quote is taken from the end of Barrie’s classic – incidentally one of my most favourite literary lines. Living, at it’s purest form, is enjoying what you do – day by day and growing up is, inevitably, a part of it. It’s making mistakes and learning from them so you pass on the lesson to someone else. It’s taking all the time in the world to sit and think about things, to form opinions, to share thoughts and contribute to ideas. Living is being happy and making people happy. It’s planning ahead and making spontaneous decisions. It’s being mature and silly, fun and serious. Living is balance, and if you get married at 20 or at 40, have babies early on, later or none at all, if you put career first or family before – it’s fine. It is.
Because living is making the most of what time has given to us NOW. We need to stop chasing something which isn’t even ours to start with. Time is its own keeper. We just have to be flexible. I’m still getting there but Peter will help. Unlike him I’ll get lots of wrinkles and white hair and sagging skin. But while he’ll wonder for eternity what it would have been like to choose his Wendy and live, I’ll have done it. I plan to, anyway.