Thirty? Really?

*Preface: the universe swallowed my first draft of this post…if it seems choppy, bear with me.  My impatience may leave out the trails behind the resultant thoughts.*

It doesn’t seem possible.  This is my reaction to turning thirty, which happens today.  It’s not negative…just weird.  I don’t feel thirty.  Maybe no one ever does.  More than anything, it makes me reflective.  The other day, I watched Peter Pan (the live action movie, not the cartoon).  I’ve always loved this story, but this particular version really brings home the sadness of Peter choosing to stay a boy, alone, rather than growing up with others and to responsibility.   

I have more than a little bit of Peter Pan in me.  When I was eleven, I decided that I wanted to stay eleven forever.  It seemed a good age to me…old enough not to be under constant supervision, young enough that my livelihood was not dependent on my own actions.  I don’t know if most eleven year olds think things like that…maybe I was just odd.  But, as you can see, my wish to remain 11 forever was not granted.  And I’m OK with that.  Actually, eleven was pretty miserable as I remember it.  But, in looking back, I am wondering if all of my nineteen years since have been spent trying to resist growing up. 

In the movie, when Hook is threatening to kill Peter, Peter replies, “To die would be an awfully great adventure.”  But at the end of the movie, while staring wistfully into the nursery window at Wendy and Michael and John and the Lost Boys now welcomed into the family, he says, “To live would be an awfully great adventure.”  But he cannot move past his unwillingness to take on the responsibility it requires.   

I have had the same sentiment.  More often than not, it seems wonderfully exciting and dramatic to think of having to fight for something with swords or of having to sacrifice myself, leaving behind a legacy of heroism.  But moving on, day in, day out, seems almost nothing but arduous.  Satan uses tragedy to trip some people up.  For me, he uses monotony…the routine that lays out in front of me, and from which I can see no escape.   

Paul (in the Bible) must have had the same war within himself.  In Philippians 1: 21-26 he says, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.  For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.  Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.  And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith.”  He must’ve been tired of the day to day as well, but knew that Christ had him here, not for his own benefit, but for the benefit of others.

All of the great stories of triumph that we love seem to be full of excitement.  But the waiting and the sameness and the loneliness in those stories all ends, for us, after a chapter.  We are able to reach the zenith of the tale in a day, and see that all of this character’s suffering was worth it.  And during the struggle, we urge them on.  We will them not to give up, not to lose heart, not to doubt.  Their years of plodding along flutter by us as we turn the page, insignificant in light of the glory to come.   

What of my own life, though?  I cannot turn the page when all I have to do is continue walking in the path I have been walking, not knowing where it is taking me.  All I can do is walk or not walk.  It becomes a question of what kind of character I want to be in my story.  Do I want to be the character who languishes, loses interest in the quest, drifts out of the story because of their inability to hang on, to believe?  The characters I love are the ones who persevere, even when all reason is against it.  That is the character I want to be.   

There is also a point in Peter Pan where the mother explains that there are different kinds of bravery.  Dialogue below: 

Children: “Father? Brave?”                  

Mother: “There are many different kinds of bravery.  There’s the bravery of thinking of others before oneself.  Now, your father has never brandished a sword nor fired a pistol, thank heavens, but he’s made many sacrifices for his family… and put away many dreams.” 

Children: “Where did he put them?”                     

Mother:  “He put them in a drawer.  And sometimes, late at night, we take them out and admire them.  But it gets harder and harder to close the drawer.   He does.  And that is why he is brave.” 

I think I am full of Peter Pan bravery, but I don’t have much of Father’s type.  Not that I’m saying I have to put my dreams away in a drawer, but I would like to have the kind that thinks of others before myself, the kind that does not fault the world for making dreams difficult to reach, the kind that does not allow circumstances to shape who I am.   

With that said, I must say goodbye to Peter Pan.  I accept responsibility for my actions and my reactions, for my life, for my relationships, and for what comes out of them, because I know that to live is an awfully great adventure.  It does not cease to be so, simply because I cannot see the grand finish, and will have been so even if I never see the outcome of any of my actions.  Apparently, God knew I would feel this way.  Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”  Every renewal of hope, every remembrance of beauty, every act of kindness, every smile and every mundane thing in life that is performed with joy – these are feats of heroism. 

Peter Pan

by Patty Griffin 

Hey, Peter Pan
I’m going home now
I’ve done all I can
Besides I’m grown now
I’ll think of you all painted with the night
You sit and watch from somewhere
As one by one the lights go out

I wrote a note to tell you how you matter
When the rain came down
All the letters scattered
And washed away
Drifted off to Never
Where you’ll be safe from me now forever

I believe you now when
You say that this will hurt
So I don’t have to go and
Play with you in the dirt now

Hey Peter Pan
I’m going home now
I’m all grown up
You’re on your own now
I’ll think of you all painted with the night
You sit and watch from somewhere
As one by one the lights go out 

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5 Comments

  1. zephaniah317 said,

    August 17, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    Happy Birthday, Connie. Had my 38th this past Tuesday…August is the COOLEST MONTH!

    You have a very good perspective on things, I think. “Hang in there” sounds trite, because you are doing more than that, it sounds like, but that’s the only sentiment I can come up with.

    I recently read a post on http://www.irrationallove.blogspot.com where she quoted an author (can’t remember the name) that said that God takes SO MUCH JOY in the mundane every day, like creating a flower or bending a blade of grass or watching over a sparrow (I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea). But, we have sinned and grown old. There IS joy in the mundane, it’s just that in our society, it’s not very “cool” and harder to find. Happy hunting! 🙂

  2. Cubby said,

    August 17, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    I’m not sure anyone really feels thirty, or twenty or forty or whatever. As cliched as it sounds, age really is the culmination of one’s thoughts and not one’s chronological age, at least that’s what I have found. Just remember that maturing and accepting responsibility doesn’t always mean “growing up”. One can be the most responsible, mature person in the world, yet still not be grown up because they continue to find the small, interesting things that “grown ups” ignore. Peter’s bravery? Yup, I can see it. Father’s bravery? I can see that as well. For if you didn’t have Father’s bravery than you wouldn’t be concerned about it, would you? The two aren’t always exclusive. IMHO, the fact that you wrote this entry at all shows that you are the type of character who will persevere and continue to believe. Happy Birthday!

  3. jeankfl said,

    August 18, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    Hi! I’m here through Cubby’s. It’s my birthday on the 17th as well, although I’m a few years older!! Maybe more than a few..ok?lol I like your writing, and your words. I feel a kinship to these words..and wish I had the understanding at 30 that you seem to. I can tell you, though, that although I continue to feel as though I don’t have that perserverance or character, as I look back to my 30th birthday, I can see a definite difference in myself between then and now. So, I can see God’s workings in me. And believe that just maybe there is something I can continue to do in this life for others. I have been blessed to have a life where I can see how I have impacted some lives, but I think I will probably be surprised to see what I have done that truly makes a difference. But, I don’t think that automatically makes Peter Pan something that has to leave our lives. I am younger in outlook 23 years later than I was at 30.. and I believe more than ever in the goodness of God, and the ability of my imagination.
    Thanks for writing,
    Jean

  4. October 21, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    […] Jesus, Jobs, Religion, Self-Esteem, Society, Women) Tags: Aging, Thirty This is a play off of my “Thirty?  Really?” post if you missed that one.  That was only August, but for some reason now I am actually feeling […]

  5. January 6, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    […] I am willing to toss them both away with no hesitation.  There is no bravery in that.  See my Thirty? Really? post to see thoughts on different kinds of […]


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