This is the Peter Pan story.
Peter Pan is this Magical boy, pan is the god of everything.
So it’s not an accident that he has the name Pan and he’s the boy that won’t grow up, and he’s magical.
That’s because children are magical, they can be anything. They’re nothing but potential and Peter Pan doesn’t want to give that up.
Well he’s got some adults around him, but the main adult is Captain Hook.
Well who the hell wants to grow up to be Captain Hook?
…first of all you’ve got a hook! Second you’re a tyrant and third, you’re chased by the Dragon of Chaos with the clock in its stomach right the crocodile. It’s already got a piece of you.
That’s what happens when you get older. Time has already got a piece of you and eventually it’s got a taste for you and eventually it’s going to eat you and so a hook is so traumatized by that that he can’t help but be a tyrant.
Then Peter Pan looks at traumatized Hook and says well no, I’m not sacrificing my childhood for that. So that’s fine.
Except he ends up King of the Lost Boys. In Neverland, and Neverland doesn’t exist and who the hell wants to be King of the Lost Boys anyways?
He also sacrifices the possibility to have a real relationship with a woman, because that’s Wendy right and she’s kind of conservative middle-class London dwelling girl.
She wants to grow up and have kids and have a life she accepts her mortality she accepts her maturity.
Peter Pan has to content himself with Tinkerbell. She doesn’t even exist. She’s like she’s like the fairy of porn.
She doesn’t exist. She’s a substitute for the real thing. But the dichotomy that you are talking about is very tricky because there’s a sacrificial element in maturation.
You have to sacrifice the potentiality of childhood for the actuality of a family and adulthood.
The question is well, why would you do that? Well one reason is it happens to you whether you do it or not.
You can either choose your damn limitation or you can let it take you unaware when you’re 30 or even worse when you’re 40 and then that is not a happy day.
I see people like this and I think it’s more and more common in our culture because people can put off maturity without suffering an immediate penalty.
But all that happens is the penalty accrues and then when it finally hits it just wallops you because when you’re 25 you could be an idiot it’s no problem even when you’re out in the job search.
It’s like well, you don’t have any experience, and you’re kind of clueless. Yeah, yeah, you’re young. It’s no problem.
That’s what young people are like, but they’re full of potential, okay well now you’re the same person at 30.
People aren’t so thrilled about you at that point. It’s like what the hell have you been doing for the last ten years well?
I’m just as clueless as I was when I was 22 yeah, but you’re not 22.
You’re an old infant
That’s an ugly thing an old infant. Part of the reason you choose your damn sacrifice is because the sacrifice is inevitable but at least you get to choose it and then there’s something that’s even more complex than that in some sense.
The problem with being a child is that all you are is potential and its really low resolution you could be anything but you’re not anything.
So then you go and you adopt an apprenticeship.
Then at least you become something and when you’re something that makes the world open up to you again.
When really good plumber
When you’re a really good plumber you end up being far more than a plumber. You end up being a good employer and a productive member of society.
You have some employees, you run a business, you train some other people and you enlarge their lives.
You’re kind of a pillar of the community you you have your family. It’s you can once you pass through that narrow training period which narrows you and constricts you and develops you at the same time then you can come out the other end with a bunch of new possibility at hand.
Part of the proper path of development in the last half of life was to rediscover the child that you left behind as you were apprenticing and so then you get to be something and regain that potential at the same time.
Your sacrificial whether you want to be or not.
That’s a good thing to know as well, so even though it’s rather you know it’s rough thing to figure out because you can go to university to not be something instead of going to university to be something.
…and that’s it’s Pleasure Island and the price you pay for it especially in the U.S. is debt and you’re enticed into it because the administrators can pick your pocket so they rob your future self while allowing you to pretend that you have an identity.
Very nasty and you can’t declare bankruptcy with your student loans in the U.S. It’s indentured servitude and it is precisely Pleasure Island.
it’s exactly that and so tuition fees have shot way out of control and part of the reason that universities don’t make more demands on their students and let them get away with all the things they let them get away with.
Why the hell would you chase them out?
There are a hundred thousand dollars or more to be made. So they can do whatever they want as long as you get to sell them to the salt mines.
So and you know it’s not the only reason because the other thing that’s happened is that the rate of technological transformation is so fast now and the rate of turnover of things is that it’s it is genuinely harder for people who are say eighteen to twenty.
When I was a kid, the kind of rough patch for life is probably fourteen to seventeen something like that now.
It’s I think it’s eighteen to twenty five something like that.
I think the reason for that is that all the jobs that the hippies complained about being doomed to in the 1960s have now disappeared.
Their problem was “oh my God” I’m going to go have to work for a corporation and get a salary for the rest of my life?!
You know and then I’ll just end up with a pension and that’ll be my whole life. It’s like
well, it seems like a lot better deal than an endless round of part-time Starbucks.
There’s a space now in our culture that is lacking for people to make that transformation from from adolescence into adulthood.
It’s the cost of that is forestalled. It’s not a good thing. It’s not a good thing at all.
Get Dr Peterson’s book (I prefer the audio version) of 12 Rules For Life