all this has happened before, and it will all happen again

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Growing up, I was a Disney kid.  Some lived for Nickelodeon, others were Looney Toons Lovers, but in my world it was only Disney.  And I don’t mean Disney Channel, no, my little heart beat only for the animated musicals that began with a blue castle and ended with a lesson well learned.  Princesses, pirates, animals that can sing…in my wide eyes, Disney was the stuff dreams are made of.

My mother kept our impressive collection of Disney videos stacked in a big wooden cabinet in the living room.  Some of their cases were torn and faded, a sign of that movie’s prominence in the rotation (and probably residual stains from being clutched by my grilled-cheese-greased hands).  One of these “more loved” cases was the one that held Peter Pan.  Disney’s 1953 version of J.M. Barrie’s classic play-turned-novel(turned movie-turned broadway musical-turned ballet) was always one of my favorites, indulging my young imagination with its constant adventures.  Now, taking a trip down memory lane with Tinker Bell and Netflix, suddenly I’m enlightened.

Rewatching Peter Pan in my 20s, I realize the message here is so much deeper (and a bit more racist) than what’s seen on the pixie-dusted surface.  In the opening lines (the title of this post), the narrator suggests the cyclical nature of this story; The audience is joining in a little late, but this will not be the final telling.  Peter has visited the Darling house before, and you can bet your second star he’ll be back again.  His life is a succession of new children, new friends, new stories.  Saying hello, and saying goodbye.  It’s really quite sad when you consider it.  I was never truly able to wrap my head around the story’s meaning as a youngster, but suddenly Peter’s fear of growing older and Wendy’s dreams of a land where kids stay kids forever sound like a page from my own diary…

At some point I think we all feel a nostalgia for younger times.  But then maturity sets in, responsibilities take hold and we realize that growing up isn’t so scary after all.  What makes this story worth hearing is the contrast between Peter’s unyielding grip on youth and Wendy’s choice to ascend into young adulthood.

Of course, as the reality of my fast-approaching 22nd birthday sets in, I’m still clinging to that youth, spending my days sword fighting in Neverland with Captain Hook and The Lost Boys.  How’s that for employee benefits?

{photo above of me in my younger years, c/o Thomas Nola-Rian}

2 thoughts on “all this has happened before, and it will all happen again

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