Even before birth, I was pre-destined as follower of the Wizard of Oz. Oh how I loved Dorothy. I’d wear my little ruby slippers and people would ask me, “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?”
“I’m not a witch at all, I’m Shawnee Marie, from Kelso,” I replied.
But, only second to my love for Dorothy, was my love for the Tin Man. I am not sure what it was about him. Perhaps I adored his kind smile, or his pure pursuit of love. Whatever the reason, he left an imprint on my heart. In fact, I still have my Tin Man mug and his action figure tucked away in my keepsakes box in the basement.
This past year, however, I find myself relating to the Cowardly Lion. I’ve contemplated what life must have been like for Lion before Dorothy’s gang came skipping and jitterbugging, unannounced, through his forest.
Lion, alone in his cave, sits. He’s slumped over in his chair, his head propped up with his arm, which is supported by the kitchen table. His other hand, gripping a bottle of Emerald City’s finest brew, rests on his knee. On the table is a half eaten steak, which he bought from the local butcher as he is too cowardly to hunt on his own and claim his right as King of the Forest.
He can’t take another bite of his dinner – can’t even look at it with his big droopy eyes. Each swallow is a tug on his mane, reminding him of his failure, his cowardice, his loneliness. That’s when he hears it, a faint, “woof woof.” He runs into the forest, tries to steal the dog.
Then Dorothy slaps him, hard. She confronts him and tells the truth he’s been denying.
He is in fact, a coward.
But Dorothy, raised right by her Aunt Em and Uncle Henery, looks past Lion’s bloodshot eyes and spinelessness, and sees Lion does possess an ounce of courage. He just needs to see the Wizard like the rest of them.
As this year comes close to an end, I realize like Lion, I too have some courage. I just had to go to Oz and find it.
Studying to be a group exercise teacher and working towards admittance into a yoga school is one of the scariest things I have ever done. My fears of not being accepted into the fitness world because of looks are real and scary – real scary.
But if Lion has taught me anything, it’s that courage doesn’t mean not being afraid, it means looking fear in his hideous face and not backing down. I’m not backing down.
Questions: Are you facing a situation in which you need to go to Oz to get some courage? What character was your childhood favorite? Which one do you identify with now?
–Shawnee, The Ex-Perfectionist