Peter Pan didn't want to grow up, but he lived in Victorian times when children could smoke, drink and clean chimneys with impunity, so there was no real incentive. Kids these days can't wait to grow up, dreaming of a lucrative career as a ballerina who fights fires on the moon, or even of buying a house in Auckland, the funny little things. If only they knew adult-hood is just adding an aggressive "Thanks" to the bottom of a work email and wondering if it's too late to start over as an Instagram influencer (it is).
Maybe one of the hardest things about being an adult is that we still need to play, but we're forced to dress it up as something else. If we take up watercolours we're supposed to work towards selling our tonal miniatures of banana leaves at the local night market or start a calligraphy blog.
There's so much pressure for things to mean something, for a hobby to provoke mindfulness or produce a quirky consumer item or require its own Lycra bodystocking. But whatever happened to fun? There's a wonderful movement in children's education toward free play, where kids just muck around pointlessly and have a nice time. That could be us!
Imagine, if you still remember how to do that, a world of adult free play. Where you don't have to come up with a witty theme and a milestone birthday to throw a costume party, you just turn up at work dressed as Elsa. Where it's not weird to have the pony ride yourself. Where you can go to the supermarket and pay with shoes or meow into the drive-thru and see what you get at the other end. Think of the treehouses you'd build. Now stop and think of the treehouses you'd build if you weren't going to Instagram them. See?
Because life is all nonsense, really. Society is just the rules of a boring, frustrating game we've all reluctantly agreed to play, probably Monopoly. Even our own personal glories will fade as our memories get fuzzier; we'll come to understand the poignancy of Ozymandias while not being quite sure he didn't sing Crazy Train.
So let's take some pressure and Lycra off and see if there's joy underneath. Create, muck around, play. Don't order a wall decal of it, just do it. We don't have to be the boy who wouldn't grow up, but let's not chuck the pixie dust in the skip just yet.