When I was little, I loved watching the Wizard of Oz. The Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man were my favorite characters. I would giggle at the man at the Emerald City gate, raving about a "horse of a different color," and practically guffaw at the sight of the literal horse of a different color.
At the time, it never occurred to me that they put it in there because Technicolor was new, and they wanted to show it off. Same for those ruby red slippers. Silver slippers on a whole new brightly colored world just wouldn't have been very interesting, but RED! That was novel. In the end, it was just the director and producers playing around with their new toys. Same as any other movie, really.
I loved every bit of that movie except the Wicked Witch of the West and her evil flying monkeys. Cliché, I guess, but they scared the wits out of me. I'd cry, I'd have nightmares for days afterward. It eventually got to the point where my parents either wouldn't let me watch it, or would send me out of the room and fast-forward through the witch parts so they wouldn't have to console their terrified child in the middle of the night.
The story ends (Spoiler alert? It's been a while now.) with Dorothy and her haphazard entourage finally getting their due from the Great Oz. Only, this being their second time in his presence, and being significantly less afraid from having faced the evil witch, they noticed something odd: a funny little man, spinning wheels and pulling levers, putting on the show of the Great Oz.
The meaning of this didn't really come to me as a child. I was just happy everyone got what they needed, and it was happily-ever-after. The moral, obviously, was that they all had what they needed all along, they just had to believe in themselves (which, by the way, isn't the moral of the book, but that's another post).
But in high school, when I was able to watch even the Wicked Witch parts without nightmare, I began to think mostly of that man behind the curtain. His moral is obvious as well, that not everything is how it appears, and not everyone is who they present themselves to be.
But in the creative arts--whichever discipline you choose--isn't that exactly who we are meant to be? The director of The Wizard of Oz pulled his levers and adjusted his dials and POOF the world was, for the first time, alive and colorful on the screen. Another turned wheel and POOF Dorothy had red shoes and not silver to make the story--in living color--more interesting.
I know I've been talking about creativity a lot. But as I am beginning this creative journey this year, I have to do what I know best: think about it and form some ideas about what creativity is, what it means to me, and how I can best act.
I am, first and foremost, a thinker. Often, I am a thinker to a fault, and I will never make the transition from thinking to acting, which is the largest impetus for this blog. It is a ready-made place of action.
In some ways, I'm the Cowardly Lion, afraid of the world outside my mind because no one can judge me for what I keep there. In some ways, I'm the Tin Man, a little cold and overly calculating, forgetting to put myself, my heart, into what I do.
But most of all, I have to realize that I am also the man behind the curtain. I get to pull the levers and spin the wheels and check the dials. I get to invent and portray and act and project. The Great Oz was a fiction. The real interesting part of Oz wasn't his grandiosity, no, indeed it was his nearly banal ordinariness. It was his creativity what allowed him to be so much more.
While Oz was perhaps not a great moral role model, what with the deception and all, he is certainly a great creative role model. So, let's all be a little more like Oz: Invent, tinker, and create.