There are just some times when I can’t explain how things happen or even how they came to be. I don’t believe in coincidences and I rarely believe in luck; I like to think that everything happened for a reason and all we need is a little bit of pixie dust to connect the dots. How else could I explain how my Peter Pan journey in Edinburgh began?
I do believe in an everyday sort of magic – the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of syncronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.” – Charles De Lint
While researching some articles about JM Barrie for a paper, I haphazardly came across a Peter Pan academic convention in Madrid, Spain in March. Wait…
WHAT!? An … academic… Peter Pan adventure? IN SPAIN? So this means…
- E.T. Phoned? There are others out there like me?
- Who would actually put on an academic convention? Who, other than me and a few stodgy professors, really care that much about Peter Pan and JM Barrie?
- How much is a ticket, get me on this plane RIGHT NOW.
In an excited haze, I hastily flitted from page to page until I reached the itinerary, searching to see if any topic specifically relatedto my thesis. While that endeaver turnedup empty, I stumbled upon something better- the keynote speaker for the convention is professor at Edinburgh in the Department of Literature. Ah, fortune smiles upon me! As it happened, I e-mailed him immediately, and he kindly met me for a wee spot of tea at the National Library of Scotland. An obvious choice for our meeting place, this library houses the Fairy Notes, the original manuscript to the play Peter Pan and Wendy, the entire reason I came to Scotland. After some chatting, he even more kindly invited me to come along to his newest Peter Pan book opening in Kirriemuir, JM Barrie’s hometown.
Is this how things happen? Do people just meet, find some exciting thing that they have in common, and then get up and actually put their discussions in motion? Surely they do not do this back home. These Scottish people are a wonderfully different type of human being.
The trip to Kerriemuir was a dream. It was incredibly hard for me to concentrate and stay in the moment while not looking too star struck. In normal reality, the place was only a bite-sized town in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by woods and dwarfed bythe nearby city of Dundee. It’s claim to fame was JM Barrie (and Bon Scott, the lead vocalist in ACDC… go figure), so all of the street names and shops were titled after his major works. But behind myrose colored glasses, this was the very start of Neverland. And like any land, it was the people, not the place, that gave the experience so much meaning for me.
The academics, the Barrie enthusiasts, and even some of his descendents that I met at this book premiere were some of the most caring and genuinely interesting people I have ever met. They came for the pure sake of keeping this incredible author’s inspiration alive. It is awe-fully amazing to me that one person can bring so many different people together, from backgrounds and disciplines across the board, because they are connected to one idea and passion.
On the way home, the sky was so bright with stars that it seemed like the whole Milky Way was in full view. I couldn’t help but think that the last time I saw this way was at home, in my own hometown. Funny how small towns don’t really lose their feeling, no matter in what country or culture you are. I couldn’t help but feel how close home seemed at that moment.