"There's no place like home"
Updated: Jun 14, 2020
I write this as social restrictions are being eased after weeks of lockdown due to COVID 19. Most of us, unless a key worker, have spent much more time at home. The government announced this week that people living on their own and single parents can spend time with another household. This in recognition that some of the population have experienced isolation and loneliness at home throughout this time with the consequent negative impact on mental and physical health.
Having a grown up family, all under the same roof during this time, but with a garden to escape to, I’m sure my time at home has been a very different experience to that of many others, especially parents with young children or to those without a garden. Unfortunately for some, home can be a frightening place and my heart goes out to people experiencing domestic abuse and to vulnerable children who have fallen through the net, who do not meet the thresholds for social service support for neglect and abuse. Home means different things to all of us.
One of my favourite films growing up was The Wizard of Oz. This film continues to catch our attention, despite being made in 1939. The film was based on a series of books written by Frank Baum published between 1900-1920. In the film, Dorothy the main character, confesses to Glinda the Good Witch, “If I ever go looking for my hearts desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn’t there I never really lost it to begin with…there’s no place like home.”
I didn’t fully appreciate the spiritual significance of this film until I read Jean Houston’s book ‘The Wizard of Us: Transformational Lessons from Oz’ ( Atria Books, 2012). It is important that we come home to ourselves; that we become who we truly are. Jean explains that it took a tornado, a violent change in climate to take Dorothy on an inward journey. In Oz, Dorothy meets Glinda the Good Witch who leads her down the yellow brick road to find the Wizard of Oz, who will help her return home. The yellow brick road is symbolic of a spiritual journey. On her way Dorothy meets her companions: the scarecrow, the tin man and the lion all represent disheartened parts of herself. What does it take for us to take our own inward journey and to meet parts of ourself that need help? We can all take this journey; it is not just for characters in myths, books and films.
I wonder if the COVID 19 pandemic, like the tornado for Dorothy, has given many of us an opportunity to take an inward journey. Eckart Tolle in a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey on ‘Supersoul Sunday’ suggests that it is as if some higher intelligence has told us all to go to our rooms and be still to think! He explains that usually its only when we are out of our comfort zone that spiritual awakening or a deeper understanding emerges. I believe we all have an intuitive, innate understanding about who we are and given the right conditions we can know our authentic self; this is where we feel ‘at home’. As Jean Houston explains this is when we discover “The Wizard is Us”. She explains that we can tap into the knowledge within to transform our lives. We have a great capacity for new ways of thinking; the greatest intelligence of all is us.
It seems apt that a significant symbol of the current situation is the rainbow. Bright colourful rainbows of all sizes have been created by children and adults and posted on many houses in support of patients and staff in hospitals and as a thank you to all of our key workers. The rainbow is being used as a symbol of hope. ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, one of the famous songs from the The Wizard of Oz, represents Dorothy’s yearning to live somewhere better; at the time she sings this song, she is living with her Aunt Em on a bleak dry farm in Kansas. The film is in black and white at this point, only when she lands in Oz does the film burst into technicolour.
The Wizard of Oz lives in the Emerald City and Jean Houston describes this city as the potential world that we can create, where we all live fully realised lives. A fully realised life means we ‘follow our bliss’. By taking the ‘hero’s journey’ we discover our authentic self and therefore can lead a fully realised life. This is the ‘privilege of a lifetime’ (Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand faces,1968). This all sounds very selfish at first read. However it does not mean we can do anything we want (nor does it mean doing what other people want us to do). It is only when we have a deep appreciation of who we are can we then have a deep appreciation for others and act accordingly.
Not everyone has, nor has had, the privilege, or the opportunity in life, to be who they truly are. At this moment in time, Eckhart Tolle, tells us we now have an opportunity to take a step forward in human evolution, individually and globally. He explains that the collective starts with the individual; individual shifts ultimately mean a collective shift and that is how our shared home, planet earth, can change for the better. It is up to each of us to take the next step. The wizard is us!