The first movie I ever saw was "Peter Pan." It was in 1953; back then a movie cost no more than 25 cents. The story is from the work of J.M. Barrie, circa 1904. Barrie was fascinated by the enthusiasm of youth. His main character, the adventurous boy, was from Neverland, the second star on the right. You could get there in the morning if you kept on going all night. Peter would never grow up, but live free and unencumbered from the responsibilities of the adult world.
"I'm youth, I'm joy," said Peter; "I'm a little bird that has broken out of the egg."
I've always been fascinated by the exuberance of kids. Perhaps the endeavors I have followed are suspect of one who would shun the adult world. Nevertheless, I remain captivated by youth. They defy gravity as they set themselves in flight and continue to prove that nothing is impossible to a valiant heart. Peter said, "The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it."
To my good fortune, La Cañadan Julie Battaglia invited me to a luncheon celebrating the teens named Emerging Leaders by the Girl Scouts of Los Angeles. The luncheon was particularly significant as it marked 100 years of Girl Scouting and honored 100 girls.
The theme of the afternoon, "To Get Her There," was a metaphor touting the contributions of Girl Scouts, a vehicle for building the leaders of tomorrow. "To Get Her There," references the mantra of Girl Scouting, empowering girls to overcome the social disparities between boys and girls. It was Peter Pan who said of his friend, Wendy, "…one girl is more use than 20 boys."
I read the biographies of the 100 young Emerging Leaders. Their enthusiasm and vision toward the future gives hope: 94% are student athletes, 90% are honor students and 100% have college aspirations.
These girls are striving to write a meaningful verse to life. And when they do, they will elevate the rest of us. Where would we be without the passions of the young?
To the young, life is burning urgency. The world is life-and-death; everything is either/or, and is either all or nothing. The irony is absurd; what consumes youthful exuberance is the exuberance itself. To see truth amid the fog of our passions, to hear that very same truth amid the din of our slogans is the secret of remaining youthfully exuberant. History has shown that passion rebuilds the world and that's how we remain significant.
The power elite of the corporate world mentored the scouts. There were chief executives, presidents, coordinators and managers. It was the afternoon of the goddess. I've never been in the presence of so many powerful women. Believe me, I was on my best behavior. I applaud the achievements of the mentors, and am humbled by their stature. But there are many other roads for girls to travel other than the pinnacle of Corporate America. We were firing on seven cylinders.
"To Get Her There," was the mentors' charge. But I wondered, "To get her where?" So how do we define, "there?" Is rising the corporate ladder the only Mecca? Arthur Miller's "Death of A Salesman" paints a different picture. Where were the mentor teachers, artists, soldiers, writers, engineers, stay-at-home moms, philosophers etc., etc., etc.? I thought of the words of Shakespeare, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
The pursuit of nobility floats on a wide sea of endeavor. As we "Get Her There," I am led to believe that where she winds up is incidental to who she becomes. Sufi philosophers say that a path is just a path. The question is, does it have a heart?
JOE PUGLIA is a practicing counselor, a professor of education at Glendale Community College and a former officer in the Marines. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his website at doctorjoe.us.