bird-like, with a view of the ground from just above the treeline, then in a flash, soaring up toward the milky way and taking a right at that second star, then on til morning. flying.
the unencumbered and unchallenged kind of flying, the look-at-me-way-up-high, Peter-Pan kind of flying. FLYING!
ever since i was a girl and saw Mary Martin soar in her green felt suit across the television stage, singing that song, i have imagined flying like that, imagined flying free, like the boy Pan.
the idea of flying, only to be stilled long enough to never quite grow up beyond where you landed. now that would be something.
if i could choose a year i didn't want to grow beyond it would be fourth grade. at 9 you haven't really made any particular mistakes that you'll have to carry with you like you might, say, at 11. or 16. your parents still think you are pretty smart and cute, your friends love you completely, the acne hasn't yet landed on your face and though you may have a boyfriend, he never actually talks to you, so he doesn't matter all that much. gotta love 4th grade.
you still believe in Santa Claus (well, at least in 1965), still have not yet shaved your legs or started your period or felt the rising and falling of unexplained and unexpected feelings. you are flying. and high, hoping to land in that place 'where dreams are born and time is never planned.' and where nightmares can still be calmed with a lullaby.
at that age, i was not aware that i might one day make mistakes i'd carry on my back for years and could not flee, no matter how i might try to fly above them.
i have always loved anything about Peter Pan, and years after the Mary Martin production, my son and i fell in love with Hook, the story of Peter as a middle-aged man who has forgotten what it's like to be a child. there are no special lyrics, no dance of Tiger Lily, but it's a wonderful examination of how quickly we leave childhood and move into the things that hardly matter. watching Robin Williams in the role of Peter, who eventually begins to understand the value of thinking and believing as a child, you imagine that this is a role he was born to play. i can't think of Peter Pan without thinking of this great actor.
i thought about all this last night as i watched Peter Pan live. as soon as the stage opened to Wendy and her brothers, I felt much like a 9-year-old again, so absorbed in the story that by the time Tinkerbell needed me, I clapped hysterically to keep her alive just as i had when was was six.(my husband made fun of me on Facebook.) for a moment, even in fiction, i mattered, i was needed to bring about something important.
there is something wonderfully freeing, flying-like, in abandoning all those burdens for a few hours, to remember what it feels like to be 6, or 9.
and to remember that years later for no explained reason, how you sang to your sleepy children words you had learned yourself as a child from Wendy, and Peter Pan.
how often, now ,does it feel like you matter. that someone's very existence depends upon your clapping?
and what do you think is around your bend, after you take that right at that second star? Morning, surely, but there has to be more.
Tender shepherd, tender shepherd, watches over all his sheep
one in the meadow, 2 in the garden, three in nursery, fast asleep.
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