November 19, 2012

Brains, Heart, & Courage

The Wizard of Oz: a movie most of us are familiar with. The story of a young girl and her three new friends whom on a journey seeking courage, a heart, a brain, and a way home to Kansas. I recently finished reading the original book by L. Frank Baum, I couldn't help but think of the journey I had in the summer. As part of my summer job I was paired with a mentor to meet with on a weekly basis. She was an older woman who I believe was an Anglican priest at one point in her life. Going into this mentoring relationship, my boss told me to think about something that I wanted to focus on for the summer, something that I wanted to learn from her. I did not take this lightly, I thought, and I thought, and I thought, and I knew. I wanted to focus on being good. I wanted to focus on being good opposed to just being nice, because there is a difference, and I wanted that difference shown in my life. So as the mentor meetings carried on, I patiently waited for her to ask me what it was I wanted to focus on. Each week I would show up at her house, sit on the small sofa in her living room, listen to her stories, share my news, and wait to be asked my focus. Well as you have probably guessed, she never did ask me what it was I wanted to learn, and at the end of the summer I left the mentoring experience a tad disapointed. 

After reading The Wizard of Oz what I realized is that the characters aren't directly given what they ask for. The Tinman doesn't get a real physical heart, the scarecrow does not receive a human brain, and the lion is not kissed by a courage fairy. Instead, these characters are given situations to grow. It is the Tinman who ends up caring very much for his friends, the scarecrow is the one to come up with the brilliant plans, and the lion ends up being courageous. Dorothy finds out that she had the power to go home all along, but with her help the other three characters were able to grow in the areas they most desired. 

This week it hit me, the whole time I was waiting to go by the book and discuss "good" vs "nice", but that's not what I was given. I was given plenty of stories and circumstances with my mentor where I could have, and probably should have, spoken up and said "good" things instead of just nodding and being nice. When I heard negative things about other people I should have been good and kept my mentor on track, but I didn't. I sat and I smiled. 

It's very easy to be nice, but it is a thousand times better to be good. Just like the characters in The Wizard of Oz I was given the circumstances to grow, and even through I didn't exercise what I what I wanted to learn, I didn't lose the lesson. It wasn't a waste, just like many things I'm doing now in my life, or have done. I'm a big believer in learning. As one of my best friends puts it, I have an "unquenchable thirst for knowledge." I believe that even things we do as children can teach us things, even when we are very far away in age from childhood. I hope that I can become more aware and more observant of situations I'm currently in. I hope that I can continue to learn from past experiences. And most of all, I hope that I'll have the brains, the courage, and the heart to not only be nice, but to be good. 

Fun fact: Dorothy's shoes in the book are silver.
They were made red in the film so that they would stand out. 

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