When I was a young girl, The Wizard of Oz came on once a year. We called it “Dorothy Day!” and sometimes, we even had cake. We would hunker down in front of our television, then – the size of a computer monitor. It would be silence for the duration. We knew it would be a full 364 days before disgruntled trees threw apples, the witch disappeared into sulfur smoke and before Dorothy learned that all she ever needed was in Kansas. A point, to this day, I still find hard to believe and yet thoroughly understand from the inside of my little, suburban life.
We learned something beautiful waiting for those ruby red shoes each year. Anticipation is often was the best part and true magic lives in the details. We knew the moment would end and that made it all the more delicious; like the last bite of a perfect piece of pie.
Every year, I watched Dorothy and her roving gang of misfits. Every year, I learned something new. As I grew, so did the meaning of her story. She is still my lifelong heroine. Flawed, but generous of spirit. Kind, but, intolerant of injustice. Always seeking. Always questioning. Realizing that the best way to take on the world is with people you trust who have flaws of their own that they’re willing to share.
My children are not the fans I was and still am. When they ask why it’s my favorite, I have my age appropriate stock answers. And the universal answer, The Wizard of Oz is about living an authentic life. They roll their eyes, convinced I’ve just always wanted a pair of shimmering, red kitten heels.
But, one day I will say this:
The Wizard of Oz is a story about a woman who can’t see the beauty in her life. She feels alone. She feels persecuted by boredom and small town injustice. She feels powerless and starts an identity struggle that will lead her to the realization that all of the power to become her best self is not in beautiful shoes or in powerful men or in exciting, new places. She learns that you follow yourself wherever you go.
In any place where you seek answers to questions only you can answer, you will find inevitable truths – No matter where you land, there will be kind, authentic people to surround and support you. There will also be the inevitable witch, unable to joyously support the journey of others. You can not allow these people to alter or control your destiny. You must keep your loved ones very close on your journey and know that the smoke and sulfur of the unhappy will lead to their own undoing.
She discovers that, the thing you dislike the most about yourself, you hide behind. It serves as your excuse to not make brave decisions or try new things and, if you allow it, it will become so big and so all consuming that you will believe that it is the only thing others can see when they look at you. But, she also learns that the people who love you, will help you find strength in what you believe is your hurdle to happiness. You are never too lost to find your own way home. You are smarter and braver than you believe. You have enough heart to love the world.
She learns that no one can give you all of life’s answers and that anyone who claims to have them is probably hiding something too. That home is not the place where your hat is; It’s the place where your heart is. At the end, you want to be surrounded by the people who love you the most and that life could be a dream, sweetheart.