Firstly, here is a very good study of Peter Pan as Kiss: A Tale of Two Metaphors, by Brendan Linwood.
Pan himself was the Greek god of the wild, symbolising the powerful masculine force present in nature. He has many names in folklore and myth - The Green Man and Jack in the Green, among others... the most familiar of these archetypal guises being Peter Pan, written by J.M Barrie.
We choose which world we want to live in – to be our authentic, natural selves, or to follow the concrete path laid down for us all (“What do you want to be when you grow up?”). The ‘rules’ in place teach us at a very young age the correct way to deal with certain life experiences, which mostly condition us to please others and fit nicely into a society of double-standards and false principles. My feeling is that this story has very little to do with youth, other than that when you hit puberty, it becomes increasingly difficult to remain free and to be yourself without being judged and ostracised for being selfish, inconsiderate, thoughtless or irresponsible for doing so. Wendy eventually did what we all do – she caved-in only through guilt and the enormous pressure we feel during our adolescent years to fulfil what is expected of us to become, only to find that the experience of truly living eventually becomes something confined to the pages of the books we read to our children at bedtime.
All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, "Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!" This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.
Never-Neverland is perhaps so named because those who control the society we live in never, never want us to go there and discover that it really does exist! It’s the natural, REAL world - a world 'made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust' - where your only limits are your imagination, life is always an adventure, faeries exist, there is no time, and you can fly.
"Second to the right, and straight on till morning." That, Peter had told Wendy, was the way to the Neverland; but even birds, carrying maps and consulting them at windy corners could not have sighted it with these instructions. Peter, you see, just said anything that came into his head.
Peter stirs strong feelings in us because we intuitively know that he stands for natural, authentic principles. He lives in and for the moment. He’s not afraid of anything... except losing his freedom. When analysing Pan, people often assume that he’s afraid of his feelings, which is simply not the case. It’s obvious that he feels very deeply, it’s just that he would never allow himself to be defined by something so transient. You know how it goes... you tell someone how you feel and all of a sudden a million-and-one expectations, assumptions and labels invisibly appear and ruin everything. The human ‘urge to merge’ is so great that, unless you are vigilant, you will lose yourself in the relationship. Grown-ups are generally quite happy to do this, mostly because they define themselves by others and don’t value their uniqueness... but Pan (Oh, the cleverness of him!) will not surrender himself to anyone at any cost. “If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree, I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up! Not me!” Note that it's only because 'growing up' entails suppressing himself and adhering to unnatural behaviour and principles that he doesn't want any part of it.
He was so full of wrath against grown-ups, who as usual, were spoiling everything, that as soon as he got inside his tree he breathed intentionally quick short breaths at the rate of about five to a second. He did this because there is a saying in the Neverland, that everytime you breathe, a grown-up dies; and Peter was killing them off vindictively as fast as possible.
I've been wondering my whole life when I will turn into a grown-up. Once, I thought I had even managed it for a few weeks... but I was mistaken. It's as they say: Growing old is inevitable. Growing up is definitely optional. You have a choice. Now, excuse me, but I must fly... after all, to live is an awfully great adventure.