Leaving Neverland

Wherein our hero pontificates on the inevitability of growing up

Posted by Orville Bennett on 21 July 2012
Read time: about 5 minutes

Some months ago, my wife and I went to visit some friends. Actually, I went to visit and she and her friend went out. On the way home I found myself in one of those introspective moods I usually have at random times. In that moment I slowly began realizing that something I never thought would happen, or ever really wanted to happen, had finally caught up with me. Peter had left Neverland; which is to say, I'd grown up.

I suppose I began thinking about this because I had been working a lot the previous week. Like, a LOT. Since I haven't yet figured out how to bend the laws of the universe to my mighty will, this meant I wasn't spending much time with our kids; my kids. Despite realizing that I should be with them, that I should spend time with them, it hadn't really bothered me though. After further thought, I realized that the reason it didn't bother me wasn't because I didn't want to, or didn't enjoy spending time with them. It was just because I had more important things to do. In my mind this — relatively speaking — short absence was the right thing to do. After all, in the long run it would make life better for us.

And that right there, is an adult line of thinking. The ability to weigh priorities and go with the (perceived) highest, in the belief that at some far future time this sacrifice will pay off is a completely and utterly grown up thing to do. And I loathed it. And yet there I was, catching myself going down that slippery slope.

At the time I was analyzing data for my Master's degree. I anticipated it taking about 4 days to complete, Monday to Thursday. On Monday, I was still doing some preliminary work with the data, so I didn't really get started until Tuesday. That left two days to complete what was, realistically, a week long task. I had a choice to make. Miss the deadline I had set for myself, or make a big push to get everything done. I chose the latter, the "responsible" choice, though I would have much rather worked a little at a time, then cuddle up with my beautiful wife afterwards to watch White Collar (good show btw). The choice I made was based on the idea that other people were depending on me, that I couldn't let them down — even if they'd let me — by taking the easy way out and taking my sweet time to finish this.

As I neared home I started wondering how I got to the point where I was making those kinds of decisions. I remember when I was a kid, in my teens or thereabouts, I'd look at all the things I liked and think to myself, How come grown ups don't like this stuff? and I wonder if I'll still like X when I'm older too? Cartoons, junk food and comic books were but a few things on that list. I remember being in my early 20s and still loving cartoons, getting into even more genres, spreading out into the undiscovered territory of Japanese animation. Even then I thought that I'd never stop loving cartoons. And I was right actually, I never did. Their importance to me has diminished greatly, however. Gone is the desire to seek out new and exciting shows to watch. I have more important things to do. I didn't stop enjoying them any less, I just started enjoying other things even more. As the French say, C'est la vie.

I realize now that it was a slow death, that of my childhood. Something that slipped away gradually, rather than all at once. And so, I won't ever be the same again. I don't mind though. After all's said and done, I quite like the idea of growing up now. I used to joke with people I admired, that when I grew up I wanted to be just like them. Now, quite unsuspectingly, I'm there. I don't want to be like them though, i want to be like me. Like a slow-moving sidewalk that gradually inches you closer to your destination, I've slowly gotten to here, from there.

I guess Peter didn't really leave Neverland, as much as he was slowly pushed out by forces beyond his control. But having gotten out there in the real world, he realizes it isn't so bad after all. Some things are exactly as awful as he predicted, but some things, are a pleasant surprise. And it's those things that make growing up totally worthwhile.

Want to comment? @reply to @opinion8d_logic on twitter with the hashtag #neverland. I'll post the ones I deem worthy here.