Growing up, I'd already decided I wanted to be a beatnik. A Bohemian poet, I thought. Or a musician. Maybe an artist. I'd dress in black turtlenecks and smoke Gitanes. I'd listen to cool jazz in clubs, getting up to read devastating truths from my notebook, leaning against the microphone, cigarette dangling from my hand.
Did you know I always thought you were braver than me? Did you ever guess that that was why I was so afraid? It wasn't that I only loved some of you. But I wondered if you could ever love more than some of me. I knew I'd miss you. But the surprising thing is, you never leave me. I never forget a thing. Every kind of love, it seems, is the only one. It doesn't happen twice. And I never expected that you could have a broken heart and love with it too, so much that it doesn't seem broken at all. I know young people look at me and think my youth seems so far away, but it's all around me, and you're all around me. Tiger Lily, do you think magic exists if it can be explained? I can explain why I loved you, I can explain the theory of evolution that tells me why mermaids live in Neverland and nowhere else. But it still feels magic. The lost boys all stood at our wedding. Does it seem odd to you that they could have stood at a wedding that wasn't yours and mine? It does to me. and I'm sorry for it, and for a lot, and I also wouldn't change it. It is so quiet here. Even with all the trains and the streets and the people. It's nothing like the jungle. The boys have grown. Everything has grown. Do you think you will ever grow? I hope not. I like to think that even if I change and fade away, some other people won't. I like to think that one day after I die, at least one small particle of me - of all the particles that will spread everywhere - will float all the way to Neverland, and be part of a flower or something like that, like that poet said, the one that your Tik Tok loved. I like to think that nothing's final, and that everyone gets to be together even when it looks like they don't, that it all works out even when all the evidence seems to say something else, that you and I are always young in the woods, and that I'll see you sometime again, even if it's not with any kind of eyes I know of or understand. I wouldn't be surprised if that is the way things go after all - that all things end happy. Even for you and Tik Tok. and for you and me.Always, Your PeterP.S. Please give my love to Tink. She was always such a funny little bug.
Not to grow up properly is to retain our 'caterpillar' quality from childhood (where it is a virtue) into adulthood (where it becomes a vice). In childhood our credulity serves us well. It helps us to pack, with extraordinary rapidity, our skulls full of the wisdom of our parents and our ancestors. But if we don't grow out of it in the fullness of time, our caterpillar nature makes us a sitting target for astrologers, mediums, gurus, evangelists and quacks. The genius of the human child, mental caterpillar extraordinary, is for soaking up information and ideas, not for criticizing them. If critical faculties later grow it will be in spite of, not because of, the inclinations of childhood. The blotting paper of the child's brain is the unpromising seedbed, the base upon which later the sceptical attitude, like a struggling mustard plant, may possibly grow. We need to replace the automatic credulity of childhood with the constructive scepticism of adult science.
That night, Gregory dreamt of his mother. It was a dream that he'd have carried to his therapist like a raw, precious egg if he'd had a therapist, and the dream made him wish he had one. In the dream, he sat in the kitchen of his mother's house at the table on his usual place. He could hear her handle pots and pans and sigh occasionally. Sitting there filled his heart with sadness and also with a long missed feeling of comfort until he realised that the chair and the table were much too small for him: it was a child's chair and he could barely fit his long legs under the table. He was worried that his mother might scold him for being so large and for not wearing pants. Gregory, in the dream, felt his manhood press against his belly while he was crouching uncomfortably, not daring to move.
Her childhood had been magical, hours spent in ecstatic loneliness in the apple orchard, dreaming of foreign lands and wild adventures.. Everything was new, down to bird song and grass blades. By the time she had reached adulthood, the town around her was like a grandmother who had used up all her stories and now simply rocked on the porch. The same flowers, the same streets, year after year. She longed for someone more exotic. A prince. A pirate.
Thoughts are such fleet magic things. Betsy's thoughts swept a wide arc while Uncle Keith read her poem aloud. She thought of Julia learning to sing with Mrs. Poppy. She thought of Tib learning to dance. She thought of herself and Tacy and Tib going into their 'teens. She even thought of Tom and Herbert and of how, by and by, they would be carrying her books and Tacy's and Tib's up the hill from high school.
When you are born...your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off of staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk and crusty things and dirt and fear and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you're half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it's so grunged up with living. So every once in a while, you have to scrub it up and get the works going or else you'll never be brave again. Unfortunately, there are not so many facilities in your world that provide the kind of services we do. So most people go around with grimy machinery, when all it would take is a bit of spit and polish to make them paladins once more, bold knights and true.
All children are heartless. They have not grown a heart yet, which is why they can climb tall trees and say shocking things and leap so very high that grown-up hearts flutter in terror. Hearts weigh quite a lot. That is why it takes so long to grow one. But, as in their reading and arithmetic and drawing, different children proceed at different speeds. (It is well known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else.) Some small ones are terrible and fey, Utterly Heartless. Some are dear and sweet and Hardly Heartless at all.