Finding Neverland

March 2, 2013
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When I was eight, I swore that I would never grow up. I told my mom I’d be like Peter Pan and live in Neverland. She looked at me, laughed, and said, “Good luck with that.” I took that as encouragement and spent the next year watching and re-watching Peter Pan, hoping to find some secret map to Neverland, but I never did.

My mom thought this was my way of rebelling, refusing to grow up, but it wasn’t. I was afraid of growing up. To me, growing up, or becoming a grown up, meant you said goodbye to being a kid. And I wasn’t ready. Even at eight years old, I was terrified of my future. I didn’t know who I’d become, what I’d do.. But more than that, I was afraid of dying. Because, in the end, after we’re done growing up, we die.

I’d seen enough people come and go to last me a lifetime. They’d grow old, then they’d get sick, and then they’d just die. Then we’d have a funeral with a bunch of people who didn’t care suddenly acting as if their whole life revolved around this person. My mom said it was pathetic, but I knew why they were doing it. You can spend your whole life pretending you don’t care about something, but when it’s gone, suddenly everything changes. Everything you wanted to say, but couldn’t say, will never be said. You’re left with regrets.

I never understood what happened when people died. Was there really a heaven? A hell? Or was that just part of the act? So one day I asked my mom. I asked her where grandpa went when he died. She was silent for a moment, thinking. But then she looked at me and said, “He found Neverland.” Then she stood up and left.

After years of thinking, I think I finally get it. We spend our whole lives searching for this special place where all of our problems will suddenly disappear, our own personal Neverland. Every person will go through their whole life trying to find it, but some never will. Life is like a race, we may have some obstacles, little accomplishments, and in the end, a finish line. I think when you cross that finish line, you find your Neverland. But if you give up, you’ll never reach it.

So, I think I’ll spend my life searching for Neverland. I won’t be afraid to grow up. Growing up, doesn’t mean saying goodbye. Because as long as you stay a kid at heart, you’ll never truly have to grow up.

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