Letters to the editor for the week of November 14th 

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On ski towns and Peter Pans

I've heard a lot of talk about Peter Pans in Whistler lately. In Michel Beaudry's piece on Amanda Stocks (Pique, Nov.7), the local barber says that "Whistler is full of Peter Pans . . . and I'm their Wendy." She also talks about how it makes her a little sad, as they get older and lonelier.

In Alison Taylor's feature piece (Pique, Nov.7), "Searching for The Good Life" the author doesn't explicitly use the term Peter Pan, but says that psychotherapist Greg MacDonnell "agrees that Whistler often attracts people who may be looking to find something or running away from something else," and that young adults are "here to have fun" and to "make the most of a hiatus from the real world."

Up until two weeks ago, I was dating an Australian ski instructor for four and a half years. I've been to resort towns in the United States, Canada, and Australia, but I had never heard the term Peter Pan before. When I heard it here, however, something clicked.

The metaphor makes perfect sense. Peter Pan never wants to grow up. He is smart, confident, knows his world, and wants to have fun. Of course, there are plenty of female Peter Pans out there too. In a ski town, they have everything they want. Why would they give that up to pursue the same amount of joy through much more effort? Why trade powder days for a "9-5 job?"

The answer to this question lies in a short story I read when I was young. In it, several families enjoy fun lives living on houseboats. One day, most of them decide to sell their boats and move into low quality houses they can barely afford. One family decides to stay on the boat and have fun, while the other families gradually save and work hard until they live in nicer houses. Eventually the boat becomes unsustainable and the family must buy a small, undesirable house. They follow the same path their friends did, but are behind.

The lesson here is that you can't run away from life. It will always catch up to you. My ex and a lot of our friends have been chasing winters for over six years now, but they haven't been partying the whole time. Most have built successful careers in the resort industry, and most are planning exit strategies. One friend went back to his engineering career after 10 years, while another wants to be a physio therapist.

Of course, many would argue that living in a ski town is its own life style. Whistler has many permanent residents after all, and many seasonal jobs are deceptively sustainable as life-long careers. I know an Australian ski instructor who is about to retire with pensions in both Australia and the U.S., and I'm sure there are plenty of Peter Pans out there who in no way regret their choice of lifestyle.

I suppose it comes back to Alison Taylor's article and Greg MacDonnell's admonition that we need to make our search for happiness intentional. Life is an adventure, and it's good to have a little Peter Pan in all of us, but we must remember not to get stuck in Never Never Land.

Teresa Matich


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