Thursday, April 14, 2011

Finding Neverland

"So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!"
— J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan)

With spring vacation arriving for my teen students and I, our unit on poetry in creative writing class was coming to a close. Knowing the direction we'd be taking after vacation in starting a fresh new project, I found it to be an appropriate time to show the movie Finding Neverland, a 2004 semi-biographical film about playwright J. M. Barrie. The movie creatively portrays Barrie's inspiration for his writing, weaving in scenes representing the author's imagination with the story of his friendship with the author's muse and her children.

One scene in the movie shows the author sitting at a prim dinner party and realizing that the children are bored. He instinctively places a spoon on his nose and the children begin giggling. Another scene portrays Barrie shocking the childrens' grandmother by walking into the room wearing a big Indian headdress. Throughout the movie, it's easy to see how Barrie may have been inspired to craft the particular features of his most famous work, Peter Pan.

We watched the first hour of the movie and I began thinking of my own childhood and how I loved to play and use my imagination. I have not abandoned my love of play or my imagination in adulthood. I may have less time for play and need to take great time to handle mature responsibilities but I have never given up making time to be silly or to indulge in day dreams.

I try to incorporate my imagination and daydreams into my writing. I share with my students that I love to recall my childhood days as they inspire many of my memoir pieces. I tell them that I do not often work on my fictional pieces, but I do have a project in the works and I am often thinking through the next chapter of my novel. I have never felt confident that I am writing anything new or appealing for an audience but I still enjoy playing with scenarios and having them come to life on the page.

Watching the movie featuring the writer J.M. Barrie reminded me today of the importance of play and make-believe. Whether we are students or teachers, writers, adults, or children, it is vital that we hang onto the world where we can make anything come true by simply closing our eyes and believing. As Barrie said, "That is...Neverland".

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