Monday, November 28, 2011

#14: I dreamt, I flewed.

I'm excited to introduce my very first guest blogger, Abi Christian. I feel very honored that she voluntarily submitted this piece for my blog. Enjoy!
(c) Disney
Peter Pan, 1953
watched November 20, 2011

In my living room, there's an old steamer trunk-turned-coffee table, of which I have many memories. As a child, it served as a doctor's table when I - the patient – was sick and my sister used her toy stethoscopes and thermometers to heal me. And it served as the ice rink on which we figure skated during every Winter Olympics.

But most frequently, it served as the launching pad for my first attempts at flight. Encouraged by Peter Pan's advice to “think happy thoughts” and the catchy song, “You Can Fly,” my little sister and I jumped off the edge countless times in reach of the sky, the second star to the right, and Never Never Land.

There was something in that moment of jumping. It's a common trope for animated movies to prolong the instance when the character - hanging in mid-air – suddenly realizes they are no longer standing on solid ground. This realization happens much faster in reality. But it still happens. For a brief space in time, you truly believe you are hung. Suspended. Flying. 

And then the fall.

(c) Disney, thanks
But that's the power of stories, isn't it? To gift you with possibility. The whole point of Peter Pan is that your dreams can be real. The choice is clear: you grow up and become practical like the bumbling father or stay a child and story-believer. The movie definitely implies the latter as more appealing.

But I think we're mistaken in assuming that practicality and dreaming are mutually exclusive. The dreamers aren't always admirable characters. Peter is self-absorbed and lacks focus. Wendy is needy; she can't go anywhere by herself (though I admit, flying is hard. I've tried).

So what makes me love these characters is not their dreaming; it's their moments of growing up - the actions they take when just dreaming isn't enough: Wendy's decision to walk the plank rather than join the scalawag band of pirates, even when it means the end. Peter's choice to fight Captain Hook “man to man” on solid ground. His refusal to fly away when left weaponless and at swordpoint because he gave his honorable word. These are heart-wrenching and thrilling scenes in the movie. They moved me as a child as I realized that loss was a possibility even when you dream, and they move me now as I still need the courage to keep dreaming.

The gift of stories is not that dreams come true; it’s that there is something worth dreaming about. That in the midst of difficult circumstances, you still hope. For something Greater. For something Beautiful. That’s growing up as a dreamer. Having the courage to dream when it’s stupid to and the actions to follow through when it gets tough. Even when the next second brings the hard crashing against earth, for a brief moment, you fly.

Abi is a dreamer, a writer, and a sucker for good fairy tales and sassy heroines. She blogs on art and good people at Her favorite movie, not surprisingly, is Finding Neverland. Tissue, anyone?

1 comment:

  1. You're such a great writer, Abi. :) Hope to see more guest posts in the future!