My daughter, Olivia, has been watching The Wizard of Oz a lot lately. My husband always says that he thinks this movie is kind of weird and that the lion is “disgusting,” but he didn’t really grow up watching it either so it lacks the nostalgic quality for him that it brings to most.
I however, did grow up watching it. I grew up watching a lot of musicals because I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house. Ginger Rodgers and Fred Astaire movies, Shirley Temple films, Doris Day, and Gordon MacRea in By The Light of the Silvery Moon. Meet Me in St. Louis and State Fair. Names like Margaret O’Brien and Betty Grable are no strangers to me.
I wasn’t allowed to watch cartoons like He-Man and She-ra, because they had magical powers— but, I could watch Grease by the time I was seven years old, because it was a musical.
I was certainly allowed to watch The Wizard Of Oz.
As I stood in my kitchen today, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion all sang their songs.
“I would dance and be merry, life would be a ding-a-derry, if I only had a brain.”
“Just because I’m presumin’ that I could be kind of human, if I only had a heart.”
“But I could show my prowess, be a lion not a mowess, if I only had the nerve.”
I had never paid much attention to the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion before, having concentrated mostly on the Dorothy storyline, but this time I recognized myself in them.
They each wanted something they didn’t feel they had. They wanted it so that they could feel complete. So they could be like everyone else.
I do this.
If only I was wiser, or better, or instinctively knew how to do things, I’d have it made.
I wish I were more insightful, because then I’d be able to know how to write essay’s like this one. I’d know where they were going when I began them and how to end them in a satisfying way. (Ps. For the record, I don’t know where this essay is going OR how it will end, which is true 90% of the time, which adds to my uncertainty as to whether I’ll be able to pull it off this time. Or the next. Or next).
If only I knew my real personality profile…
If only I didn’t have thyroid problems…
If only I knew how to do things so I could figure out how to get a book published. Or maybe I wish I knew somebody? Or just knew that if I knew somebody, that it would make a difference?
If I could just find THE THING that’s keeping me from being all I can be. You know, that thing. Whatever it is.
Until then, welp, I guess I’ll just keep wishing?
Must I really kill a wicked ole witch just to be told that I have the things I want in just the right amount already, or don’t actually need these things at all, to do my work in the world?
That’s what the Wizard does, you know.
Upon Scarecrows request for a brainm the Wizard says, “Why, anybody can have a brain. That’s a very mediocre commodity! Every creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain! Back where I come from , we have universities, seats of great learning where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts— and with no more brains than you have.”
And then he offers Scarecrow a diploma as if to say he’s allowed to believe he thinks deep thoughts now. He’s not deficient. Never was.
Upon Lion’s request for courage, the Wizard says, “You’re a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate delusion that simply because you run away from danger, you have no courage. You’re confusing courage with wisdom! Back where I come from, we have men who are called “heroes.” Once a year, they take their fortitude out of mothballs and parade it down the main street of the city. And they have no more courage than you have.”
And then he gives lion a medal of bravery, as if to say he’s allowed to be brave now. He is not less brave than anyone else. He’s not deficient. Never was.
Upon Tin Man’s request for a heart, the Wizard says “My galvanized friend, you don’t know how lucky you are not to have one! Hearts will never be made practical until they can be made unbreakable…Back where I come from, there are men who who donothing all day but good deeds. They are called—er, er, uh, GOOD DEED DOERS! And their hearts are no bigger than yours.”
And then he gives Tin man a testimonial as if to say he’s allowed to go and care and do the good deeds that big hearted people do despite not having one, because it’s not the actual, physical heart that makes them do these things anyway. He is not deficient. Never was.
And then he adds, “Remember, my sentimental friend, that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.”
Which of course, he already is.
It occurs to me that I haven’t paid much attention to this part. The part of the story that tells us we are not really lacking anything, but rather, it’s only a matter of believing…and in fact, it doesn’t even matter if what you believe is true or not in this context. After all, the Tin man did not get a real, live heart which would make him feel emotions. Just reassurance that he could do the things he wanted to do without one.
We learn this lesson about believing again at the climax of the story when Dorothy misses her balloon ride to Kansas and learns she’d always had the power to go back home.
Everyone is aghast. ‘Why didn’t you tell her?” they ask Glinda, the Good Witch. To which Glinda replies, “Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.”
The Scarecrow asks, “What have you learned, Dorothy?”
She answers, “That it wasn’t enough to WANT to see Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. And that if I ever go searching for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard, because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”
Apparently, when she realizes this, and only then, Glinda tells her, “Now, those ruby slippers will take you home any time you wish.”
All she has to do is return home and believe.
I want to go home already (and to quit wandering out in freaking tornado weather, despite my life-long fascination with them.)
Also, to remember that if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again (wisdom, know-how, capability), I won’t go looking further than my own backyard – because, if it’s not there, I never lost it (or am without it) in the first place.
Somewhere over the rainbow
skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do
If happy little bluebirds fly
beyond the rainbow—
why, oh, why