“Think happy thoughts” says Peter Pan as he is coaxing Wendy and her little brothers out the window of their happy home. How could Wendy not want to follow Peter Pan, the boy who can fly? Not only can he fly, but his confidence is contagious and his advice good.
In the classic story by J.M Barrie we meet the lead character while he is lost in an alternate reality from the one he knows, is familiar with, and calls home. On a vacation from Neverland the story opens as Peter is desperately seeking to find his shadow all the while simultaneously spying on a girl he thinks is beautiful. Peter Pan’s story is such a wonderful metaphor for life.
There comes a time in our lives, if not more than just one, when we feel that we are in a foreign place. A place so foreign that in our discomfort we feel we are mere spectators, on the outside, looking in. More often than not, what we find ourselves uneasily looking in at is what we desire the most. The feeling of secluded disquiet mostly arises from the experience of seeing what we want from the vantage point of where we are, that is, without. And that vantage point is often combined with down weighted with feelings of insecurity, doubt, shame, dissatisfaction, and so on. This is a part of the nature of our humanity, the realm of the shadow self, the place we find Pan at the beginning of the story.
To coax the girl out of the comfort of her happy home Peter convinces her that she too can fly. All she must do in order to fly, cajoles Peter, is “think happy thoughts”. Like Wendy, her little brothers are enticed by the fascinating invitation to take flight onward to another land where children never have to grow up, and play takes place all day long. A land that is painted by Pan as a home away from the weight of shadows, a land where dreams are attained, and the doldrums of adult life are widely avoided. However, Pan has come looking for his shadow, for he knows that in order to be whole he must own his shadow and temper it with happy thoughts in order to take the leap from the window and not crash to the ground. Such alchemical tempering is the key to not feeling like one is on the outside looking in, but rather capable to rise to the occasion of life, taking the first step in exploring the land beyond the existing comforts of reality on the way to the attainment of ones dreams.
To accomplish any difficult fete such as flying, we can begin by encouraging ourselves to look out at the possibilities of good rather than downward, measuring the height from which we might fall. Beginning with seeing the good, seeing the potential of what one has to offer and or learn, permits one to successfully not only take the leap, but also land softly somewhere on the other side in the magical Neverland. Conversely, the alternative is to get caught in the web of one’s insecurities, and to never take the leap from fear of failing. And yet, like Peter we mustn’t loose sight of our shadow. Staying aware of one’s liabilities, ones fears and concerns, allows the opportunity to be present with their antidotes when they are needed. It can be frightening to stand on the outside looking in. Thinking happy thoughts fundamentally gives you a leg up to leap off of.
Looking for the good and thinking happy thoughts, opens the windows to the opportunity to rise and take flight in the face of whatever challenges, adventures, and obstacles that come up along the path of life. This bigger perspective enables the ability to take the shoulda, woulda, coulda’s out of life and replace them with “can right now”. As was so eloquently stated by Peter Pan, “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.”
Yoga, much like the extraordinarily enticing Peter Pan to Wendy and her brothers, offers the practitioner an opportunity to be brave and try new things with body, mind, and spirit. And yoga, like the idea of flying without wings can also be scary. Sometimes in our fear our shadows create walls of disbelieve, doubt, shame, and an unwillingness to step forward. By looking for the good one can create a perspective of courage through which they can use the tools in their skill sets to rise to any occasion one breath, one asana, one step, one happy thought at a time.
With Love, Always, In All Ways, For Giving, In Joy,
Cavieat: The Taos Youth Ballet is performing their version of Peter Pan this weekend at the T.C.A. If you are in town and have a chance to get tickets, the performance is sure to light up your heart and carry it on wings of joy.