October 20, 2009
We're off to see the wizard
The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
'The Wizard of Oz', clearly one of the best movies of all time, has just celebrated it's 70th anniversary. It was released in 1939, the same year as 'Gone With The Wind', but did not become widely popular until it was shown annually on television from 1959-1991. People who lived for 70 years or more have a great deal of wisdom to share with us, and so I have decided to honor the wisdom of this 70 year old movie by listening to some of lessons it has to teach us.
There is a great lesson to be learned from the Wizard. Whenever we find ourselves, or someone we love, in a chronic state of irritation or anger, most likely it is being caused by an underlying fear, insecurity or hurt. Dorothy and her three friends are initially afraid of the Wizard's anger, thinking it is a revelation of his power. When Toto pulls back the curtain though, the true source of the Wizard's anger is revealed. To take some poetic license with the Wizard's line from the movie, he says, "pay no attention to that scared, insecure man behind the curtain."
Dorothy and her friends ignore the Wizard and choose to pay attention to the man behind the curtain. After their initial anger at him, they assist him in breaking free from his self-created isolation. Herein lies another great lesson: While our inclination is to isolate when we are afraid or hurting, it is only in connecting with others that we can be made whole again. In fact, each of the characters in the movie are initially alone in their respective pain, but one by one, they connect and restore each other's spirits and confidence.
Another lesson from the movie is that healing and growth is always a journey that takes us to a place we have never been before, and usually requires us to face some less than supportive characters along the way. While we will never have to face witches, flying monkeys or talking trees on our journeys, we will quite likely at times have to face our own inner talk of self-doubt or the resistance of others who might be made uncomfortable by our efforts to become a better version of ourselves. If we do not face any resistance from within or without, then we probably are not on a journey of significant change. Real growth/change is scary because we will soon discover that we are not "in Kansas anymore."
Finally, I would like to reflect on how the movie parallels the experience that so many individuals, couples and families have when they choose to work with a coach, therapist or spiritual guide. Filled with anxiety and hurt, most people will initially look for the "expert" to fix them. This is quite normal and of course there are some things that professionals can do to bring stability and clarity to a person in distress. As the work of coaching or counseling unfolds though, people usually discover (just as Dorothy and her friends did) that the "answer" was within them all along. Telling someone that though rarely works; they must always discover and rediscover that for themselves.
So what do you love best about the 'Wizard of Oz?' Is it wonderful memories you have from watching it as a child, or from watching it with your children? Is it the amazing music--how can any one resist singing along to "we're off to see the Wizard.....?" Or is it the fun way it teaches us all some great lessons? It could be any of these things, or more, because it is just such an amazing film, and----- "because of the wonderful things it does!"