Published on Monday, September 17, 2012 - 8:55am
“All children, except one, grow up.”
Of course, this is the famous first line from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan.
It is safe to say the Peter Pan who comes to mind today is not the dynamic brainchild created by Barrie. Barrie’s Peter Pan is fanciful, sophisticated, and witty. As real-to-life as he is magical, Peter Pan is a typical boy, except for the fact that he can fly and lives in a place that dumbfounds Google Maps.
Peter Pan is an exaggerated stereotype: cocky, boastful, careless. With his reckless attitude and quick-fire remarks, he is the poster boy for youthful innocence ... and arrogance. Blissfully unaware of the dangers of swordplay, the permanence of death, and the consequences of both, Peter Pan floats through his life in a physical and mental state of eternal youth, a state J.M. Barrie remained in physically as well.
As the result of his brother's death at a young age, Barrie suffered from psychogenic dwarfism, a form of dwarfism caused by psychological trauma. Standing at 4' 10" as an adult, Barrie's short stature reflected his emotional battle against growing older and closer to death and loss.
Barrie believed that with growing up comes social, emotional and morbid compromise, and that these things diminish a person's creativity and imagination. As Peter Pan wrestled against change, daydreamed and pondered the meaning of "mother," Barrie struggled with his own familial hardships, trapped imagination and physical development.
Despite his short stature, J. M. Barrie had no trouble growing an incredibly sophisticated ‘stache or creating Peter Pan, who has become an iconic character in print and on-stage, immortalized forever as Barrie’s greatest achievement.
Barrie's imagination created one of the most dynamic characters this side of a nursery's window and the countless interpretations and editions of the classic pay homage to one of the greatest adventure stories ever written. Peter Pan is more than a cartoon, more than a musical pumped full of glitter and high-wires. Peter Pan is a legend. And so is his creator. Barrie encompassed the better parts of childhood, as well as some of its sadder truths, in the pages of Peter Pan.
You don’t have to be a child to appreciate the adventures of Peter Pan. He is proof that no matter what Time takes from us or how it changes us, the young at heart outlive us all.
More Motivational Moustaches: Part One and Part Two