“..children know such a lot now, they soon don’t believe in fairies, and every time a child says, ‘I don’t believe in fairies,’ there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead.” ― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
I took my five-year old to see the musical Peter Pan a few weeks ago. To echo one lesson at the core of Peter Pan – it’s funny the things you forget when you grow up.
I had forgotten the scene where Tinkerbell drinks Peter Pan’s medicine. If, like me, it has been far too long since you have seen Peter Pan, here is a recap of that part:
In the second act, the Lost Boys have left their hideout with Wendy and her brothers. They are going to fly to Wendy’s house where they can finally have parents, but, before they can leave, they are captured by Captain Hook. Then Captain Hook sneaks down into the hideout and poisons the medicine Peter Pan had promised Wendy he would take. Tinkerbell sees Captain Hook tamper with the medicine and tries to convince Peter Pan not to take it. When Peter Pan won’t be persuaded, she drinks the poisoned medicine herself.
Then her light starts to fade.
The curtain drops on the scene of the house where Peter Pan lives, and it is just Peter Pan, Tinkerbell’s flickering light, and the audience.
This is when my son turned to me, his eyes wide and said, “This is not good.”
“It’s going to be okay,” I told him when he buried his head in my shoulder. “Trust me.” He raised his head, and with a wary look in his eyes, turned to the stage where Peter Pan is pleading with the audience to clap.
It’s the moment when we are all tapped into the magic of childhood. The whole audience young and old is clapping because that is what will bring Tinkerbell back to life, and for a moment, we all get to be children.
I love moments like that – when belief comes to the surface. It is risky. It makes you vulnerable. When you take a leap and invest in something that defies all logic and reason for the promise of something beautiful.
In reading, people call it the fictional dream. It those times when you are so absorbed in the book that the world the author has created seems more real than the world you live in.
What asks you to believe more that stories in a book. They are nothing more than lines on a page. But the way we devour them, take them in (their people, their settings, their messages) and make their part of our world. That is magic.
Jack and I clapped and clapped along with everyone else in the theater, and Tinkerbell’s light shone brightly again. And Jack smiled at me, and we went on dreaming.