originally published on my writing blog
When I was three, I decided when I grew up I wanted to be a tree. Unfortunately this dream, although pursued passionately, is destined to remain unfulfilled.
Around the same time, I also declared my undying love for ‘gymlastics’, a sport I fought hard to be good at for too many years. When I finally quit, it wasn’t just because I was no longer having fun. It wasn't enough to chase my dream; I needed something I had a chance at catching.
It’s common for children to flit between career choices. My ambition to grow roots and leaves altered quickly. I longed to be a vet, a beautician, a teacher.
Never once did it occur to me that I could write, and that it might be enough.
I have evidence to prove that I have been writing since I was at least six years old. One of my first poems was about a cat and a bat, probably because these two words rhymed. Another was about God, as when I was six He was one of the most important things to me. To this day, that fact prevails.
My head became so full of stories I had to write them down, but it wasn’t until I was fourteen that I actually noticed what I was doing. I can recall my moment of clarity where I saw that all I ever did in my spare time was write. Unintentionally I had become a writer.
When I was given the gift of storytelling, it did not arrive alone. In the same box came a crippling anxiety that wrapped its arms around my passion and ate its way into the heart. Now, I write because I love it, and because I must. But I write tentatively, so carefully because I will never stop believing that it will never be good enough.
I hope you recognise the reference in the title of my post. It’s taken from a most beloved book called Peter Pan.
Peter was not quite like other boys; but he was afraid at last. A tremor ran through him, like a shudder passing over the sea; but on the sea one shudder follows another till there are hundreds of them, and Peter felt just the one. Next moment he was standing erect on the rock again, with that smile on his face and a drum beating within him. It was saying, ‘To die will be an awfully big adventure’.
– Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie, Chapter 8.
Many film adaptions, Hook (1992) and Peter Pan (2003) among them, alter this line so Pan states as well that, ‘To live will be an awfully big adventure’. Some may prefer this version of things – I have seen it misquoted on many a motivational poster.
But I am captivated by the original, by the image of the boy who won’t grow up looking at his own mortality and having the bravery to say that he doesn’t fear the end of his life. Reading Peter Pan as an adult, I find so many lessons inside on living. Growing up and fading into mediocrity should always be feared. And losing the ability to believe in magic? Always.
But adventure, fun, stories and even death? Never.
So, I wish to grab hold of my anxieties and have the bravery to tell them that I do not fear what they may do to me. For the chance of this adventure, I will not fear failure or disappointments. I believe I am meant to do this.
To write will be the biggest and the bravest adventure I ever choose.