I know what I want.
I want a world where “everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.”
But right now, my best friend’s husband has malaria. And he’s not getting better. Its like they’re Dorothy and the wizard has kept them waiting so long at the gate. Now, even once they’ve gotten inside, it turns out that the Emerald City is a farce. An illusion kept up by these sage-tinted shades. If Glinda doesn’t show up soon with some real magic, I don’t know what will happen.
Right now, I struggle to keep my mind on whats important. I struggle to maintain perspective. I’m like the cowardly lion, desperately afraid that someone will notice that I can’t be what they’ve always heard a lion should be. I wander through the forest, terrified that someone will see me and realize I’m not the King of the Jungle and that I don’t have it all together, but equally terrified that my bluff will convince them and someday, they will be disappointed.
Right now, we live in a world where the Tin Man and the Scarecrow are gods. Our throw-away world kneels at the alter of apathy and ignorance. Be cold and strong, even if that means you rust til you can’t move. Don’t let those joints turn back to flesh. Iron is the way of the future. Be blissfully ignorant, they cry. Maintain the shallow illusion of straw. A brain will only get you into trouble. Read your New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha. Read your Sartre. Get that diploma and let it sit on your wall, right at the corner of what you thought your life would be and where you sat down to wait for it to take you there. Just read, children. For godssakes, don’t try to apply this. If you’re tin or straw, you won’t get hurt.
And right now, Toto is the only one with any sense. He sees the illusions and he just keeps walking. If dogs were capable of humour, he would have pissed on the Tin Man, frozen in his strength. Barked just to see how high the ignorant straw guardian would jump. The closest thing to a canine chuckle would erupt as he pulled back the emerald curtain. He is at least faithful in his cynicism.
And I feel myself stuck in Oz. This tornado carried me away and, like Dorothy, I’ve been a little bit scared. Like the Tin Man, I’ve been tempted by the cold strength of apathy. I’ve desired the Straw Man’s ignorance and I’ve lived in the lion’s fear. And God knows, my cynicism can rival any little black dog’s if I give it free reign.
But I’ve got these red shoes and I think I’m ready to go back to Kansas. I think I’m ready to find a different kind of magic. To dig my hands into that dust bowl soil and pray for rain. I’ll keep the shoes because its hard to find something with red and sequins that looks this fabulous, but I’ll be careful to keep the heels from clicking. It’s time to just walk.
And I know where I want to go. I’m not following the Yellow Brick Road. I saw a different path that looks more enticing. Its underneath a street light in the country and I could just see far enough to know that I have no idea whats coming. And I’m ready for that. I might need a candle if I’m going down that path.
I know what I want. Kurt Vonnegut, don’t worry. I brought my own matches.