Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Places That Terrify

When I was a little girl I loved nothing more than to lie on my cot beside the tiny attic window and look out into the night sky. I didn’t imagine what was out there I knew that the heavens were filled with heavenly bodies and if I listened real close I would hear what secrets they had to tell. It was safe there in that attic room. I read once that if you want to live an exciting life then you will spend half of it terrified. I have learned how really true that is.

It doesn’t take much to terrify us –of course, we are creatures of habit. Once we begin to expand our boundaries further out into our own personal galaxy we often are terrified. For many the very thought of change is terrifying in itself. But change is a part of life. Recently I had been through some difficulties and when I asked someone in a similar situation how they were doing she answered me by saying after watching you I decided to lay low and keep my head down. We can do that. We can lay low, keep our head down and try to avoid those places that terrify us or we can face them squarely and realize that if we move into the place of terror we will find that it is a mere shadow and the more light we bring to it lessens its power to terrify us.

I remember a time I was terrified but I don’t remember if it was the first time or not; but, it could very well have been.  My grandmother took me to see the Wizard of Oz. We rode the bus into the city and stood in line at the movie theater. I was very excited to be in the city with my grandmother and a trip to the movies  It was a treat which she and I did sometimes. I was very very young and had such a vivid imagination. Inside the theater I felt very small sitting in that huge seat and the theater was so dark. Perhaps it was the huge screen that made the movie seem so real. And, then there was that little girl with her dog, Toto, calling for her Auntie Em.
The whole thing was pretty terrifying for my young age but what terrified me the most was the flying monkeys. I will never forget the feeling when those monkeys swooped down. They chased and finally grabbed Dorothy lifting her high into the dark night. I remember their shadows against the bright yellow moon. I was terrified then and when I watch the movie today my computer brain engages the programming and I feel very small watching those flying monkeys swooping down.

There is a lot of symbolism in the Wizard of Oz. Many think that it the symbols reflect the time of change happening in the country when the book was written. The flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz have been said to symbolize the Indians of the plains. In the book the leader of the flying monkeys claims that they were free and happy until something came out of the clouds to rule the land. And, of course they can’t take Dorothy home as the king of the monkeys says that they can’t leave the country because they belong to it. Henry M. Littlefield, an American Educator, author, and historian wrote an essay called: The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism. It seems that the Wizard of Oz has the ability to not only terrify but to carry us through the places that terrify us. Littlefield wrote that “on the deserts of North Africa in 1941 two Australian brigades went into battle singing, “Have you heard of the wonderful Wizard, The wonderful Wizard of Oz, And he is a wonderful Wizard, If ever a Wizard there was.”

Somewhere in the movie, or perhaps it is found in the book, is the quote “the dark side of the rainbow.” We all from time to time experience the “dark side of the rainbow”… Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.” I thought I was writing about those terrifying places but maybe I am really writing about change and the ways in which we cope and how each of us has the opportunity to move with ease through the places in our lives that terrify us—those places that terrify are like road blocks laid down to keep us from changing into the person we were meant to be and moving into the life we were meant to live. In different times in our life we are all given a way through--a kind of “yellow brick road,” strewn with guidance-- we just need open enough to hear and summon the courage to be brave enough to follow passed the road blocks.

Henry M. Littlefield’s essay can be found here:

To see more pictures of the Wizard of Oz:

No comments:

Post a Comment