Re-Learning to Play
The new broadway show Finding Neverland has swept the theater world for it’s ingenuity, happiness, and challenges to the young and old. This play is about the history behind the timeless story most children and adults know, Peter Pan and his lost boys. Many renditions of Peter Pan have been developed since the original conception in 1902. My personal favorite starred Robin Williams as an old Peter Pan in the movie Hook.
What is the allure of Peter Pan? The premises revolves around young boy refusing to grow up. Recently, my wife and I watched the newest rendition of this timeless story called Finding Neverland on stage at Denver’s Buelle Theater. The heroine of the story is Silvia, the widowed mother of four young boys. She’s introduced chasing her boys around the park while they are playing as pirates, as she wears her own eye patch playing with them. In the story’s 1880’s London setting, this woman playing with her children in the park receives public ridicule from those around her. The rest of Finding Neverland follows Silvia as she and her 4 boys teach Mr. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, the importance of play.
How to play. This is one of the concepts too easily lost in today’s society. Many children face circumstances forcing them to grow up at an early age, and our culture tends to prize the young who can put their childish ways behind and grow up quickly. But what if our western idea of growing up is backwards? What if never growing up and staying a child at heart isn’t something to be belittled, but praised? This idea of playing is not to skirt responsibility, but to learn not to take life too seriously.
In the recovery world, laughing at yourself is key to any journey. We have to laugh at the silly things we do as we walk along this path. Another important part of recovery that we rarely talk about that builds on the idea of laughter is learning to play. Sometimes, being silly can be one of the most vulnerable parts of ourselves. Letting someone in to that vulnerable side can be incredibly scary. We put on the adult facade so that we look like we fit in and know what we are doing, so that no one can see our vulnerable, silly side. But what could happen if we take a chance and let others into our playful sides? Could we really be accepted?
As Mr. Barrie once wrote throw the eyes of Peter Pan, “All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.” Letting yourself play is not always easy in the world we live in because it requires trust in yourself and in those you let into your imaginary world. When is the last time that you intentionally took time to play? What does playing mean to you? Maybe today we can take a lesson from Peter Pan and take time to play and be silly. You might even take it a step further and invite someone close to you to be silly with you.