Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hopes, Dreams and Fears

As a writer, I hope for one great line. One memorable, beautifully written line that states the complex so simply it speaks to the past, present and future. A string of words that expresses a truth in a way never done before and that lingers in the mind of the reader forever.

Okay, so I hope for one great character too. A character that is beloved from the first page until the reader's dying day. A character that plays his role in that one great novel of my dreams that must be inside of me somewhere waiting to emerge.

I don't hope for much do I? A girl can dream can't she?

I have been thinking about one such line stated by one such character in one such novel. Shakespeare's Cordelia in King Lear... The Counte of Monte Cristo by Dumas' novel of the same name... Odysseus in Homer? You ask.

No, actually, I have had a line from Peter Pan moving through my head, down to my heart and back up again. I have loved Peter Pan for as long as I can remember. His ability to fly, his crow, his baby teeth, his attitude, his eternal youth. Who can not fall in love with Peter?

I have a secret to tell. I did not read the book until a few years ago. Actually, I lie even now. I did not actually read the book, but listened to the unabridged version on CD with my children. We all know the book is better than the movie, it always is. If you loved Disney's Peter, I highly recommend reading (or listening) to J.M. Barry's original.

The one great line, the line I love, the line that is in my heart and head is not part of Disney. It is because of lines like this one that it is a tragedy that many settle only for screen versions of Classic Literature.

Get on with it already, you say. Tell us the line. Tell us what he says that rivals Homer and Shakespeare. I will but first I have a question for you:

Are you afraid of death? Do you feel the heavy hopelessness of those around us who do not believe in an afterlife? Do you worry that even though you believe, believe, believe, at the hour of death, you will freeze up and be gripped by the terror of the unknown? I do. I think we all must at some point. For some it is a fleeting fear, for others, it is a life time struggle resulting in the desire to live at all costs for all time.

Isn't this one of the reasons we love Peter? He never grows old. He will live forever.

Okay, to the line:

Hook says to Peter, "And now, Peter Pan, you shall die." To which Peter Pan, eternal youth and joy, responds, "To die would be an awfully big adventure."


...To die would be an awfully big adventure... Two thousand years of Christian Theology in eight words from the beloved boy who fell out of his pram and went to live with the faeries in Kensington Gardens before settling in Never Land.

...To die would be an awfully big adventure...

Maybe I will change my hopes. Do I really care about one great line, one great character, one great novel? Maybe. I can still dream. But just let me face death like Peter and that will be enough.

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