Recently, I attended a sold out Wizard of Oz sing along at San Francisco’s historic Castro Theater. The enthusiasm of young and old to cheer for Toto and hiss at The Wicked Witch brought this classic to life like never before. As we were transported from Kansas to The Emerald City and back again, it was easy to understand why this timeless tale endures. However, this time around, it was not so much Dorothy that I was intrigued with as the mysterious man behind the green curtain.
After the four friends experience all kinds of magic and treachery, as we all inevitably find on the path, they are ready to claim their reward. Disillusionment sets in as it is revealed that “The Great and Powerful Oz” does not have any special powers after all. However, his ordinary ability to point them inward has extraordinary transformational power. What does he do but simply act as a mirror to help each of them see what they already have? What Oz lacks in godliness, he makes up for as a smooth psychotherapist. That which the seekers so desperately desire is within them all the time. Yet without him, they might never have found it.
The Cowardly Lion finally sees that, yes, indeed, he is brave. Needing an external measure to prove it, Oz produces a bogus medal which gives him the courage to see the courage in himself. The Scarecrow, too, has been blinded by self doubt. When Oz confers on him a nonsense diploma of Thinkology, suddenly the Scarecrow can own the intellect that he always possessed. As for The Tin Man, he has to be willing to have his heart broken if he is going to have a heart. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway, he accepts vulnerability in the name of love. All he needed was a little nudge to ignite the spark beneath the steely exterior. Nice work, Oz.
Having seen her friends wishes come true, Dorothy is convinced there is nothing Oz can do for her. There is no quality for which she is searching–she just wants to go home. After Oz accidentally floats away without her in his hot air balloon, Glinda appears like an angelic spiritual guide to illuminate Dorothy’s power on the path. Although her delivery comes in a fluffy pink package of crinoline, Glinda’s message to Dorothy is the same one her friends got from Oz. What she wants, too, has been within her reach all the time. Just 3 clicks of the heels away.
Like our cinematic heroes, we each possess everything we need within–love, wisdom and strength. Still, it is reassuring to know that when we feel lost, there are those who are able to point the way home, be it therapist, spiritual guide or friend. It is good, too, to remember that the journey is where the juice is. Even though we all wear metaphorical ruby slippers enabling a quick return, you have to admit, the Technicolor adventure is a total blast.