I was sitting on my Uncle’s porch in Maryland last weekend reading my Bible and drinking my coffee when my oldest daughter (the introvert) came out to spend some time in the warmth of the rising sun with me.
It was a really precious time.
As I sat there reading and meditating, she started talking about Peter Pan and Captain Hook. I got to thinking…
I am Captain Hook.
I wanted to be Peter Pan. Truth be told, I have often put Peter Pan more or less in the position of somebody I would like to be someday. Free… Wild… Adventurous…
It clicked that morning by the pool that I share a lot more in common with Captain Hook than I realized.
1. Captain Hook is haunted by an alligator that has swallowed a clock. It is really neat for me to think about an Alligator and a clock going hand in hand. Time moves constantly on, the hands of the clock can never be stopped and time will consume everything in its path. I think a lot about time, not simply as a law of life, but as a character in my story. I cannot escape the effects of time. If I am unprepared, selfish, unobservant, etc., time will be upon me and will consume something in my life. I will have to work very hard to recover what I lost or have to learn how to live without it. Sounds a lot like a man with a hook in the place of a hand that was swallowed by a tick tocking alligator. Likewise, if I am prepared and I am living wisely, then I am rewarded by seeing the fruit that comes with time. Almost like planting a garden and then seeing a happy little alligator carrying a basket of carrots and tomatoes to my house. Silly… I know… In the end Hook and I are both running from and fighting with time, in the form of an alligator or not, we both engage in this dance.
2. Captain Hook is in constant pursuit of Peter Pan. Peter Pan seems to really symbolize youth and freedom. Hook has a ship full of pirates to look after and command as well as a mission to accomplish. He has the gift of age and maturity which has produced the burden of responsibility upon his shoulders. Yet the single greatest pursuit of his life is this youth, free and wild. It is interesting to me that Hook runs from time and chases youth. I do not chase youth per se. I do not do much of anything to make me look or feel younger. I am actually very VERY happy to be ageing at the rate that I am and I embrace my age. I’m happy to be the age that I am and I look forward to getting older, even though I know there are some hard things that come with that. I cannot help but reminisce about my youth and dream about being young again. I find myself getting carried away by hobbies sometimes and then discover that, in those moments, I am chasing my youth. Hiking, hunting, fishing, riding my bicycle, running around with the kids in the yard… these all remind me of being young and I pursue those activities with a vengeance. My kids are truly lucky!!
3. Whether you knew this or not, Hook tries to make Wendy his mother as well as the mother of the pirates under his command. Amazing. He is looking for some kind of loving, gentle, caring, affirming, emotional connection that he currently does not have in his life. These things are well symbolized in the idyllic mother. It is no question that I look for these things too. My wife has been a true blessing to me. She has given so many of these things to me and has helped me figure out how to receive these things for myself from Jesus, but it does not change the fact that my heart looks for these things often.
In short… Captain Hook runs from time and the consequences time brings, chases his youth, and pursues a gentle, affirming love just like me.
I am Captain Hook.
I was Captain Hook.
Though I still feel all of the things I just mentioned, there is one major difference.
Captain Hook is perpetually engaged in a vain pursuit of hopelessness.
I am not.
I feel the pressure of time every time he comes around. Instead of running from him, I live wisely. I make the most of every moment because that clock marches on and I will be measured in the end. Instead of running I engage. It kind of takes the teeth out of the Alligator and makes him more of a pet than a menacing creature. I play with my kids, I read my Bible, I cherish my wife, I exercise, I read a lot, I go for walks, I forgive, I give grace to my friends, I ask questions, and I generally want to intimately know others as well as to be known. I am actively building my life with an eye on time and an eye on the standard to which I will be measured.
I do not chase my youth. I do not subscribe to the magazines that sell youth and insecurity to men, I do not care at all that my face has hard lines and wrinkles in it or that my gut hangs lower than it used to. It does not bother me that I am slower than guys I work with who are younger or that I am sore for longer after a hike than I used to be. I spend no money (and thus no time) on trying to look, sound, smell, or act like I did 10 years ago, or like those who are 10 years younger than I am. I have found a deep sense of satisfaction and pleasure in maturity. I find confidence in my thoughts and attitudes which comes from having spent time thinking about life and engaging in life. I enjoy the confidence that comes from competence which seems to come from a solid investment of time, thinking, and making mistakes. I look forward to the next 20, 30, or 40 years of learning and growing more competent and confident in who I am.
I know that I am deeply loved and cherished. I know that I am pursued with a passionate vengeance. Just because I feel the ache of desire which longs for love and affirmation does not mean that I am not loved or affirmed, it simply means that I want it badly and that I appreciate it immensely when I receive it. I do not need to go looking for it very often because it is very often brought to me when I am not looking.
I can identify very much with Captain Hook. I really can. I guess the truth is I used to be Captain Hook… wanting to be Peter Pan.
Now I know who I am… And I am pretty sure that Captain Hook and Peter Pan wish they were more like me!
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