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Archive for September, 2015

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For a moment forget about the wonderful Wizard of Oz movie. As good as it is, Hollywood failed to understand some of the finer nuisances that can only be found in the book.  There were no farm hands, no Elvira Gulch, and no Professor Marvel. What was left?  Aunt Em, Uncle Henry, Dorothy…and Toto, too.

Who can forget Dorothy running away from home to find happiness over the rainbow only to abandon her plan to return home where a cyclone propelled her on her fantastic  journey.

It’s different in the book. It took only 600 words to set the story to send Dorothy up, up and away. Author L. Frank Baum used the word “gray” ten times in those 600 words. He not only described Dorothy’s home and landscapes as gray, but he used the same word to paint a picture of Em and Henry.

In the book Dorothy had no reason to run away. She was not a misunderstood little girl. But she did have a longing for a place over the rainbow.

“It was Toto that made Dorothy laugh, and saved her from growing as gray as her surroundings.”

And therein we learn why Dorothy was longing for something to happen. She was deathly afraid of turning gray like Em and Henry. Deep down inside she understood how easy it was to lose your color and turn grey.

overwhelmed by what her future was going to be like, a cyclone struck…and nothing was ever going to be the same.

We don’t have to wait for a cyclone to help us avoid or escape becoming gray. We have options. We have opportunities. But many of us prefer to stay grey because it’s so safe.

Having had the opportunity to teach college students for more than a dozen years I have observed, first hand, the future. The close to 1000+ students I have had in my classes were all solidly nice “kids.”  But they were in danger of becoming gray, and not because they wanted to become gray, but because many of them didn’t know they had a choice.

By and large they were all good students in high school. And by good I don’t only mean they had good grades, they were well-behaved, polite, and focused on the role they would play in the greater marketplace. From early on in their education they either knew or their parents knew, what they needed to do to “succeed.” They learned that it was far better to play it according to the rules than to take risks. When they colored, they stayed inside the lines.  And over time they only had one colored crayon.

gray crayons

What do these students need? A cyclone. They need something to send them on a journey. They need to step out of their comfort zone. They can do this by choosing to study abroad, by taking a lead role in a campus activity, by being selfless and going out into the community and volunteering, by shedding old prejudices and embracing people not like them, by being exposed to new ideas, and by standing up for what is right.

We don’t need to go to Oz, because in the book Dorothy was glad to be home, and home is where can not only bring color into our own lives, we can bring color into the lives of others.

painters-palette

 

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curtain call

After a brief hiatus, I’m back. That opening remark prompts me to pose a question: Who cares? No one missed my blog. Trains did not stop running. Governments did not collapse. Donald Trump’s polls did not take a dive. And while prices might have tumbled on the stock market, the fact that I wasn’t blogging played no part in it…at all.

Then why resume posting on the YBR? Do I actually expect blog views to go through the ceiling? Despite the fact that I would like to see my daily views increase super exponentially and even though it would be nice to become one of Ellen DeGeneres’ cause celebres or one of the guests on Jimmy Fallon, Steven Colbert or even Bill O’Reilly, it really does not matter when you take a look at the world stage.

Let’s be honest. I am not depriving the world of any life-altering words or blogs of amazement. For the most part. But…I would trade having a million followers who can’t wait for my next cat video for just making a difference in the life of one person, because in the end it really doesn’t matter how famous you are, how rich you are, or how many times your name appears in print.

We all have a limited time as passengers on the planet earth. When you’re in your twenties, thirties, forties and even in your fifties, you aren’t always conscious of your life span. Then one day it hits you. You look stage right and you see a new cast of characters waiting in the wings. You look stage left and you notice a stage hand reach for the rope that raises and lowers the curtain.

So, before the curtain rings down, I will continue to blog on the Yellow Brick Road…even if it is for an audience of one.

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