Lessons from the Land of Oz (part 2)
When you think about the characters from The Wizard of Oz, you probably don't think about them as examples for life lessons. However, we've already discovered the lessons we can learn from the Scarecrow (Check out that post here). The next character on the yellow-brick road is the Tin Man.
When we meet the Tin Man, he is stuck, rusted in the middle of the woods with an ax raised in mid-swing. The Scarecrow and Dorothy figured out that the Tin Man is in need of some oil applied to his joints. Once Scarecrow and Dorothy loosen the Tin Man's joints, he is relieved to finally be able to drop his arm. Dorothy asks how he came to be in such a state. The Tin Man says he was caught in the rain and in mid-swing he rusted in place.
Here's what I don't understand about the Tin Man -- it took more than a few drops for the Tin Man to rust stiff. And obviously, the Tin Man knew he was capable of rusting. So, when the rains started to come, why didn't the Tin Man get out of the storm? Why did he stay there, getting soaked, chopping wood knowing it was going to come at a cost?
For whatever reason the Tin Man kept chopping wood, the inevitable happens... he rusts solid. I just have to stop and laugh a little at the ironic lessons we can learn from this particular scene in The Wizard of Oz.
1) The Tin Man keeps going even when he knows he should stop. Raise your hand if you know there are times you've been in the deep throw of things and the storms of life come on, but you just keep going? Anybody? I know I have. For whatever reason, call it denial, call it stubbornness, call it stupidity... I just keep going like nothing is happening. The reality is, sometimes we need to recognize the storm and take cover. I don't mean tuck tail and run, but I do mean it's time to realize life isn't all roses and face the reality that life is a battlefield and sometimes you've got to wage war. When my father-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer, it rocked my husband's world. He was overwhelmed with worry, taking care of his dad, hoping things wouldn't end the way the doctors had predicted and was soaking up all the time he could with him. In that year, we didn't go on elaborate vacations, we didn't decide to reside the house, we didn't take on a new diet program or any other life-things beyond just surviving. A storm had hit and we were taking cover. We didn't pretend that life was okay. We didn't put on happy faces and plaster on fake smiles. We were in survival mode. In fact, we quit a lot of things. We closed a business, we stopped a lot of extra curricular activities, and we didn't add anything to our plates. We survived. Sometimes it's important to recognize the storm. It's the best way to weather it.
2) The Tin Man freezes with ax mid swing. Ever heard of the saying, "He's got an ax to grind?" or "Let's bury the ax?" Boy oh boy does this image of the Tin Man standing there with his ax raised resonate with these old sayings.... especially the later one. What would life be like if we dropped the ax? If we just let go of the crap that gets us steamed, works us up in a lather and keeps us stuck in our bitterness? Because the Tin Man was hell bent on chopping that wood not matter what and I wonder if any of us have been guilty of being hell bent on keeping score, righting wrongs and canceling out transgressions. What happened to the Tin Man? His stubbornness got him stuck. He couldn't move forward, he couldn't let go and he couldn't rest. He was miserable! The truth is, the same things happen to us when we won't put the ax down.
Eventually the Tin Man gets free and all the while he wants a heart. When the wizard grants him his wish, he realizes he had the heart he was looking for all the while. The Tin Man is caring and considerate, but only discovers this after he moves on from the place he was stuck and steps out with a little help from his friends.