Have you ever wondered what the child you were once would think of the adult you are now? With wide eyes and innocence how would that little girl or boy see you today? Would they still find you to be kind and brave? Would they be disappointed in your lack of childlike faith? Would they ask you where your inner dare devil and adventurer is hiding? Or would they instantly recognize you? Would you jump up and down, spin around in circles, dance like no one was watching? Or would you shake your head and complain you don’t have time for this silliness right now?
We’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t grow up. It’s a trap!” It’s a reference from one of my favorite movies and books, Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up. Poor Peter, he never quite left Neverland did he? See there’s a balance to life, in becoming an adult without losing sight of our childlike spirit. Wendy had it right when she told Pan, “Don’t be afraid to grow up, Peter. It’s only a trap if you forget how to fly.” I think many of us sadly forget how to do just that, fly. Many times as we take on more and more responsibilities, bills, work, families of our own and we put our childlike heart away. Life is hard. There’s never enough time in the day especially for childish things right? Before we realize it, the little children we once were are long gone, hidden behind our now grown up exterior. Our inner child simply slips away as we tell ourselves we’ll visit again, someday. We wave goodbye as the Jolly Roger sails back to Neverland without us. Our childhood, our childlike faith begins fading away into nothing but a distant memory.
But what if you could call that ship back again though? What if you could keep a bit of Neverland inside your heart, some pixie dust tucked away inside your pocket for a rainy day, would you? Would you choose to stay a child at heart or extinguish that flame? Would you “think of happy thoughts and fly”? Or dust yourself off, dying a slow death of boredom and routine? We all have this choice. We can grow up and forget or we can have adventures while growing up, staying young at heart. Life Lesson #70 Stay a child at heart. “Live for the moments you can’t put into words.”(Unknown) Go ahead, “Take the second star to the right and straight onto morning.”
I’m absolutely a child at heart. And yes, I do take the responsibilities of my grown up life seriously, just not too seriously I suppose. I have “the teacher voice” as my kiddos call it at times, I just understand there’s a balance to this growing up thing. I keep that little girl I once was close. I made the choice long ago not to banish her and her silliness. I am not afraid of letting her out; to be goofy, to laugh so hard soda explodes from my nose or to dance around, giggling wearing Mickey Mouse ears on top of my head in public. I want nothing more than to live life. And not just through my children’s eyes, no I want to live with them, beside them. I never ever want to forget the way to Neverland, to lose “the desire to climb a tree or run through the sprinklers.”
Do you remember the little girl or boy you were? I sure do. I won’t let myself forget. No, I’m not the red headed, freckle faced little girl running around jumping off of couches anymore but I do however have the same daredevil, adventurer spirited heart I did then. I still and always will be a child at heart. It’s who I am, who I chose to be. When life get tough, when my sometimes overpowering grown up voice inside wants to take over, I simply think of raincoats and rain boots, splashing around in puddles. I remind myself that the Jolly Roger isn’t too far away and remember that Pixie Dust just inside my pocket. Peter’s words echo in my ears, “Come with me, where dreams are born and time is never planned.”
I think in my own crazy way, even in those beautiful disasters of ideas and failed attempts; I want nothing more than to live a life well spent. I think we all do actually; we just lose sight of our childlike faith. “To live is an awfully big adventure” isn’t it? So what if we stumble? As children our resilience is strong, we envision ourselves flying and jump, do we not? So why as grown-ups do we fear the fall? Eric Hanson says it pretty incredibly well, “What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” Our transformation from childhood to adulthood doesn’t have to be tedious, dull, bland, mundane, unimaginative or ho-hum. Just because we have to grow up doesn’t mean we have to stop having fun, to stop living. Take time, act silly, laugh out loud, spin in circles, make “them” wonder. Stay young at heart, always. Even Psalm 103:5 speaks of keeping our childlike heart alive, renewing our youth, “Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.” Growing up doesn’t mean forgetting or losing the simple and loving heart of your childhood. It means having the courage to keep it alive. Walt Disney said it beautifully, “growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional.”
So come away with me wont you? Come away to Neverland, where our hearts are forever young. All you need have is a little faith, some trust of course and just a little bit of pixie dust tucked away. Oh and one last thing,never, ever grow up.