Beyond The Curtain
Everyone from my mom’s generation down has seen the Wizard of Oz. It’s been available to generations from TVs to streaming. And I’ve been thinking about the movie a lot lately and what it means to me.
Dorothy wasn’t a victim, the scarecrow, tin man, and cowardly lion were searching for their truth, and the Wizard was just another runaway. He ran from reality only to find fantasy isn’t so great either. This story has so many hidden lessons it’s hard to keep up. But I’ll share my version of Oz with you.
First Dorothy. She wasn’t entitled; she didn’t see herself as a victim, and she didn’t blame Toto, the tornado, or the shoddy construction of the house for her situation. She didn’t take Oz to small claims court or ask for a senate hearing on why the bricks were yellow. The Munchkins were spared her tirade of abuse for being there, different, and available to misdirect blame from herself. Glinda, The Wicked Witch, and the Lollipop Guild were all treated with respect. She never once belittled their fashion sense to achieve popularity on social media, pointed out their differences from the norm, or felt entitled to make them live up to her standards and beliefs. She demonstrated courtesy, gratitude, and respect with kindness and received a pair of ruby slippers for her efforts.
Life isn’t fair and shit happens, Dorothy got that, picked herself up, dusted herself off, assessed the situation, sought advice, and then started her journey. She was in foreign surroundings, scared, alone, and uncertain that any of this would make a difference. She was her own hero. And there was skipping. She did a lot of skipping all while breaking in new shoes.
Dorothy found companions along the way, different characters teaching different lessons, but the cool thing for me is her acceptance. She accepted the Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, and Tin Man for whom they were, she saw their truth when they couldn’t see it for themselves. She didn’t have any preconceived expectations of her journey or the people she would meet. They were on the same road, and wanted the same destination, but had different goals, experiences, and perceptions, but they still worked together. And, they all kept pushing forward, even without GPS or a decent signal.
And the Great and Powerful Oz? He was an average guy from Kansas who was pretending to be something he wasn’t believing it would give him what he wanted. He was frantically juggling levers to protect himself from exposure, hiding behind a talking head and a curtain. He wanted power, but he didn't want to be seen. He thought that power would bring him respect, acceptance, admiration, and success, only to find out that our best fantasies still come with flying monkeys. In the end, he just wanted to go home too.
The Emerald City was the goal for each of them, and they each wanted something different from it. And it was great for a while, but who can really take up residence in a fantasy when reality is where life is really lived? They all learned, even the Wizard himself, that the Wizard couldn’t magically fix their problems. They had held the answers all along. For Dorothy, it was a snazzy pair of ruby slippers, blisters, and a realization that gratitude, love, and kindness can take us where we need to be.
Life isn’t fair. But, it is rich. How can you appreciate life without death, how can you see others while hiding yourself? How can you love without tolerance and acceptance? How can you grow without experience? How can you be on the yellow brick road unless a tornado enters your life? How can you appreciate the wonders of a Horse of Different Colors when you choose to only see in black and white? And what if you could recognize the possibility that your worst day might have been part of a bigger plan to save others from enslavement by a Wicked Witch or to help a desperate fake wizard go home? What if you choose to take life's journey with gratitude instead of complaining about the snow that woke you from a field of sleeping poppies? What if you looked behind the curtain, and then beyond? What if you skipped? Maybe just a little, every now and then?