He went in a hurry in the end because he had dreamt that his mother was crying, and he knew what was the great thing she cried for, and that a hug from her splendid Peter would quickly make her to smile. Oh, he felt sure of it, and so eager was he to be nestling in her arms that this time he flew straight to the window, which was always to be open for him.
But the window was closed, and there were iron bars on it, and peering inside he saw his mother sleeping peacefully with her arm round another little boy.
Peter called, "Mother! mother!" but she heard him not; in vain he beat his little limbs against the iron bars.
He had to fly back, sobbing, to the Gardens, and he never saw his dear again. What a glorious boy he had meant to be to her. Ah, Peter, we who have made the great mistake, how differently we should all act at the second chance. But Solomon was right; there is no second chance, not for most of us. When we reach the window it is Lock-out Time. The iron bars are up for life.
---The Little White Bird by James Matthew Barrie
Peter Pan always makes me cry. I don't mean the story so much as the boy himself. Every child wants to be him, because every child has to grow up except him. At one point in all our lives, we've yearned to visit Neverland. To fight the pirates, play with the Indians, hunt with the wolves, and swim with the mermaids. Once upon a time when we were six or seven or eight, we all wanted to be Peter.
But then we grew up.
That sounds so terribly tragic, but only when heard with a child's ears, and only when thought of while sitting at a cubicle cataloging computer information. We never think of growing up as a tragedy while we're happy. It's only while doing the most tedious grown up things that we let our minds drift nostalgically to Neverland and wonder what the boy who never grows old is doing.
But why don't we take a moment to examine him while we sit next to our loved family members, most importantly among them, our mothers.
Yes, while we laugh with she who loved us unconditionally all our lives, why don't we think what fun it'd be to join poor Peter.
Peter has no mother, you know. Not now, anyways. He did, once. She was argueably one of the loveliest of mothers, who slept in tears for months after her dear boy flew out the window and back to Kensington Gardens. She cried for him, an dyearned for him, and always, always kept the windows open so that he might return. And he did.
He came back and saw his dear mother, but he left. He left because he was a child, and the allure of the fairies and the birds and the magic of a locked Garden at night was too much for him to resist. He told himself he could always come back. He believed his mother would always be there waiting for him. For does not every child merely assume that the world will be kind? Nevermind how harsh he is to it, the world will always wait patiently for a child.
But Peter made the world wait too long. He whiled away his time in play, and when at last he wanted to take his second chance, he flew back to find his playroom window locked. The mother he had was smiling again. The tears on her pillow were dry. And most abhorrent of all: another boy had taken his place!
And so Peter Pan gained all that every child ever desired, all but the one thing every child truly needs: love.
For there is no love in Neverland. There are pirates and mermaids and Indians and lost boys but there is no love.
Peter Pan is a living, breathing, flying tragedy. And we must learn to envy him not. Pity him, never, for he has found a way to be happy, but also envy him never.
Dear readers, I am writing as one who wished harder than most to be the first Lost Girl. I am writing as one who remembers endless dreams of the Neverland. But I am also writing as a grown up. If Peter visited my window now, he'd see a grown up and fly away before he saw the smile on my face. He'd deceive himself that I was miserable, over-worked, and dull. He wouldn't stay to see that I had that one thing he had wanted so many, many years ago.
Please, remember your childhood fondly. Cherish your inner youth. Keep your heart as youthful as possible for as long as possible, but never forget the beauty of growing up, for it means above all else that you have found love.
And that, I believe, is the greatest achievement anyone can obtain.
I am, with all due respect, your humble writer.