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We're off to see...Poppies will put them to sleep...(continuing on the theme of friendships)

Hello readers and welcome to this little post today. We have turned a corner and another page in the calendar, haven't we? Fall is on the approach.

On my walk this morning as I sauntered through the woods, a few thoughts came to mind; and then I started to think about how my environment related to one of my favorite movies of all time! Do you remember the movie - "The Wizard of OZ", written by Frank Baum. This is one of the best movies of all time, in my opinion, along with other classics like: Gone With the Wind, The Princess Bride, Casablanca, Breakfast at Tiffanys and Goonies (love, love!)...(But, that discussion is for another time). Anyway, I remember watching OZ as a little girl, with my family, in the basement of my childhood home. As we watched this movie, I remember sweating and holding on to the edge of the couch when the Scarecrow doused the Wicked Witch with water and she began to melt. I can handle that part now! And, I love to watch it again and again,even after all those years!

The point I felt compelled to write about focuses on...friendships! This movie is a great comparative when thinking of friends, friendships and what they mean to us. So, let's get right to it...To begin with one of the first thoughts of friendship, relating to the movie, is the way in which all of Dorothy's "new friends" stood in the gap for her along the way. Aside from the evil antagonist in this movie, the story line really does make one feel good, especially at the end. Friendship was the word that struck a cord because, as you most likely agree...we all need friends.

So, in this movie, let's consider each of the characters and their friendship with the protagonist, Dorothy of Kansas; starting with the Scarecrow. Everyone knows Dorothy is not in Kansas anymore. She is alone, save for her little dog, Toto. Not long after the munchkins and the Good Witch of the North, Glinda, direct Dorthy to follow the yellow brick road, she meets her first friend, the Scarecrow. From the beginning they hit it off and he pledges to help Dorothy find a way back to Kansas, regardless of the unknown...including the point he makes that he is not afraid of witches. We later find that he is, indeed, very intimidated, and not just by the witch. Then, there is the Tinman, being found to have rusted and left frozen in place a very long time ago. It is he, who, by his compassionate and gentile manner, promises he will see that Dorothy gets to the Emerald City to meet the Wizard, regardless if the journey serves him well or not. He is galant, protective and committed to Dorothy. And, lastly, as the three of them wander into the dark haven of the forest, they meet up with the Cowardly Lion, who is so overcome with fear that his one defense is to be a brute. Interesting to note here is the moment, in the movie, where Dorothy steps in and defends her little dog, Toto; reducing the Lion to shame and tears. (The Scarecrow and the Tinman, in the meantime, are down on the ground shaking in fear; it is Dorothy who steps up to intervene! And, remember that she refers to herself as "small and meek"?) . I think Dorothy's instinct to be courageous is interesting to note; as vulnerable as she seems, when it comes to protecting what she loves most, she has no fear in that moment! Anyway, getting back to the story... once the Lion's identity is exposed, he is found to be quite vulnerable. His fear settles, however, as the three forgive his audacious manners and invite him to come along on their journey. The Lion shows that, while being the most anxiety ridden and fearful, he is a tender and courageous friend...and yet, he doesn't recognize it. His fearlessness is one of the most joyful and encouraging parts of the movie for me. His bravery is the most compelling because of the state he was in when his friends found him; alone, afraid, lost and hopeless. The friendship between them becomes close and trusting as they battle the perils set up to defeat them, by the Wicked Witch of the West, no less. Her character certainly stems from a wickedly jealous heart, full of envy, pride, selfishness and greed. Would you agree? Her desire is to dominate, which is why she is so compelled to get rid of Dorothy and get those Ruby Slippers (which promise to make her omnipotent). She is the epitome of evil in this story. I want to pause just a moment, because this post would be remiss if we didn't offer a few words highlighting Glinda; the good witch of the North. She is the complete opposite as you know, not only beautiful physically and upright in character, but she is guardian over the little town of Munchkinland as well. She is true and trusted; and seems to know more of what Dorothy seeks, than Dorothy herself. But, she isn't just going to "fix" things for Dorothy; she wants Dorothy to learn for herself that she had/has the power to go back to Kansas anytime she wanted/wants. She intercedes throughout the story, thwarting the ill intentions of the Wicked Witch, all on Dorothy's behalf. The movie progresses as the four friends defeat the forces of evil, through to the end when the wicked witch is finished off by a bucket of water! We know the Wizard of OZ wasn't able to get Dorothy home as he promised. And, we now that in the end it is Dorothy's own virtue of a grateful and believing heart that transcends her back to her home in Kansas. She awakens from what was, in the end, just a dream. And, she realizes then what is a great lesson for any of us. And that is: THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME!

Even better: It's all about people and relationships! That's really what we're meant for, wouldn't you agree?

It is so comforting to know beforehand (after watching a lifetime of showings) that good always wins in the end. Watching this movie today is really a walk down memory lane. Good prevails and all is well in the land of OZ...and even better in Dorothy's Kansas.

Is the story a little relative to life here on planet Earth? Do we hope to find friends that will take risks to keep us protected; to stand in the gap and defend us; to fight for us when someone does us wrong; to protect our dignity or reputation? At the end of the story, when Dorothy is saying "good bye" to her friends, she whispers to the Scarecrow that she'll miss him most of all. What was the bond between them that made her say that? I thought about that and wonder if it was, in part, because they knew each other the longest. Could it be that, although he WAS made of straw, he most resembled her in the "human being" aspect? Was it because he seemed more "earthly" to her?; less like a character, even though he was still made of straw? Or, could it be more that he offered a stronger sense of wisdom and protection, so she trusted him differently? He was the voice of reason and was able to make the plans to rescue Dorothy. He remained strong and determined when the Lion was having doubts about going into the castle, as well as his anxiety about what might be happening to Dorothy. And, the Tinman had a meltdown in the field of poppies as he considered the spell inflicted upon them by the wicked witch. In these situations, it was the Scarecrow that was able to keep his head and stay focused on the plan to rescue Dorothy!

I sometimes wonder if we gravitate to people we believe are able to maintain a sense of calm during a storm; can compartmentalize ugly realities to think of a strategy to deal with a messy situation; can remain optimistic when the chips are down. It may sound cheesy, but this story really offers insight into character differences; strengths and weaknesses (not in a bad way or to be critical, but to understand). Everyone has both strengths and weaknesses for sure. Some that have those character qualities allow others to place their trust in them. Think of volatile situations, like a war zone or in emergency situations. There are people who can read a situation and react in ways that lead others out and/or protect them. To be that type of person is a real strength to those around them. Which character do you most identify with in this great movie? Are you courageous, calm, want the best for all around you, armed with a situational awareness, protective, able to create exit strategies? For me, I relate to a bit of each of the characters in the story. Sometimes I feel strong and courageous and other times I am full of fear. Maybe, this is why I love this movie so much. Do you see yourself as one or more of the characters?

Well, as you can tell, this post was way over on the other side of interior decorating! Still, it just felt right to give a thought to consider how we invest in our friends, how much we are willing (or not) to stand in the gap for them and what do we see as our own strengths and/or weaknesses.

Have a great week! Until then, there is NO place like home!...Jeanine

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