Saturday, July 24, 2004

There is No Place Like Home

I have had a lifelong interest in The Wizard of Oz... Although honestly, when the Oz Convention was held here a few years ago, I learned that I, in fact, am not actually obsessed with The Wizard of Oz. Oh no. I'm far from obsessed. I didn't know the meaning of "obsessed" until I saw these nutty Oz-heads. See some press coverage of that event here, here, and here.

A N Y W A Y, back to the subject at hand. I love Oz. My Dad read me all of the books when I was a kid. I adored the movie and ended up asking for and receiving an Oz playset for Christmas, which I actually found a few days ago when I was sorting. In the third grade, I played Dorothy in my school's version of the play. I actually found the program for that when I was sorting, too! The theme of Oz actually came up in therapy when I began to do that thing girls do with their fathers, pushing them off a pedestal. I learned a bit late that Dad was not The Great and Powerful Oz, but the man behind the curtain, or somewhere between the two. I adored the books Was by Geoff Ryman (a man Hamilton actually knew as a child) and Wicked, the story of the Wicked Witch of the East. Both books bring these characters into a more realistic and less magical, over-the-rainbow world. The beauty and metaphor of Oz has always captivated me, and not in an oh-boy-let-me-get-the-Munchkin's-autograph kind of way.

As I wrote yesterday's post about home, I was reminded of the theme of home in The Wizard of Oz. When Dorothy is in Oz at the end, and the Wizard has left in his balloon without her because she has run after Toto, Glinda appears and tells her that she has always had the power to get herself home. Before she leaves, the Tin Man asks her what she has learned in Oz. Her answer is something I've had memorized since I played Dorothy when I was 8.

It wasn't enough just to want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em, and it's that if I ever go looking 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.

Oh, that's so good. And it's how I feel now. Home is not my apartment. It isn't my parents' house. Salmon Rushdie wrote a beautiful essay about the Wizard of Oz and the theme of home. Remember that pilaver in 1989 when he had to go into hiding because the Ayatollah Khameini had issued a fatwa on him for writing The Satanic Verses? Talking about losing your sense of home! Rushdie knew that home wasn't present in the walls of a house. It's something you create within yourself. Who better to speak about this than an articulate Oz freak in exile?!

In Dorothy's Progress: The Wizard of Oz as Spiritual Allegory, the author David F. Godwin sums it up so very well that I'm just going to paste it in here:

[T]he ultimate spiritual reality lies within each individual person-in their 'own backyard'-and not off somewhere over the rainbow. 'The kingdom of Oz is within you.'"

I mean, what a fabulously secular and relevant lesson to reflect upon right now, when everything in my life is changing, when the physical manifestations of home are unstable. And it even reflects my Buddhist leanings. Everything I need is right here, right now. Everything is exactly as it should be.