You Can Always Go Back to Kansas

Witch of the North: “You don’t need help.  You have the power to go back to Kansas anytime you want to.”

Dorothy: “I don’t believe you.”

Witch of the North: “Big fucking surprise.”    

It’s funny when I look at a movie like the Wizard of Oz, and it makes more and more sense as I get older.  Not simply the journey Dorothy takes, but the Witch of the Norths explanation at the end what she couldn’t tell her from the beginning she always had the power to go back to Kansas because she had to find it for herself.  Of course, a lot of people like to joke about that scene at the end because the witch made Dorothy go through all that hell and nightmare trauma of evil witches, giant floating Wizard heads, and flying monkeys only to be told she could have left anytime she wanted.  But apart from being a fantasy film, it is funny how much truth their is that the North witch couldn’t tell Dorothy what she was in for, and is actually doing her favor in sending her on her way.

In the past few weeks I’ve talked to a few people in their early 20’s now, with me having been through my own share of crap and now here at the age of 31.  In talking with the younger guys (and most of them are men), I can see all the anxiety and panic in them I went through, about not knowing where my life was headed, and feeling I had to make a decision to do something RIGHT NOW or they fear in some way their life will be a failure.  I try explaining to them that there is no rush to get your life started if you need time to figure things out.  It’s okay if you don’t get accepted into the college you want right away.  If you’re not married and having kids before you’re 30, it’s not a big deal.  It takes time and patience for a person to find what they’re looking for.  And I almost guarantee that most people never find it while they’re still in their 20’s.  They don’t find it because they’re too distracted by everything going on around them, and it’s the fear of failure.  I told this recently to a friend of mine, a guy in his early 20’s who currently lives in another country, who wanted to come to the US to start his career in the American film industry.  I told him to just get his butt over here and do it.  He had a relative he could stay with in a state outside of California.  He may have to start out getting a green card and doing a few jobs he might not care for until the right opportunity comes to him, but the important thing he’s doing is building life experience for himself.  He’s got to allow himself to take on the pain and struggle of life, because really that’s the fuel for the work of every artist.  I even said in the end, if it doesn’t work out, the worst that could happen is he goes home.  It doesn’t mean he’s failed, just that he has to prepare himself to try again.  

Well, he heard me out, but I knew he didn’t believe in a word I was saying.  The reason for that being that his personal life experience hasn’t caught up with him yet to find out that he has the drive and ambition to get what he wants, but just lacks the faith that the universe will help him work things out.  But what’s surprising is that my friends case is not unique.  I’m seeing this kind of fear all over the place from a younger generation.  There seems to be such tremendous expectation put on them that they have to be a success by the age of 23, or at least before they’re 30 or they’ll have failed in life in some way.  It’s not their fault for feeling this way but the culture we live in now is so much faster that it can be hard for people to keep up.  With all that mounting pressure, its difficult trying to tell them that if they can’t keep up or they fall of the rails occasionally, it’s not the end of the world.  It‘s okay, because the honest truth is if you do fall of the rails, its exactly what you need to happen.  You’re supposed to fall off.  Because trying to avoid failure is basically avoiding the inevitable.  People need to slow down.  Tortoise vs. Hare remember?  Who eventually wins the race?  

Younger people who often don’t know what they want for themselves will find religion, but in the end they are still cut off from their faith.  Their faith in themselves.  Some people will achieve a success and think they’ve found it, but if those people are grasping on to it for dear life afraid that nothing like that success will ever come again, then they really haven’t found what they were looking for at all.  I used to think in my 20’s that I only wanted one thing in my life, either to be an animator and a filmmaker and secure myself in a field.  But to be honest, now, it doesn’t matter what area I end up in.  I want a career in animation, but I think I’m going to be doing so many different things in my field and wearing so many hats that I won’t want to settle down into one positionI wouldn’t settle on one job because I think it would get boring, and I would be limiting myself.  It makes me think of that saying, “Jack of all Trades, Master of None“, but when I heard that saying when I was younger it sounded like being “A Jack of All Trades” was a negative, and that what we needed to strive for was to be a “Master” of one particular thing.  Now when I hear that phrase it’s the other way around, where being the Master seems more like the negative (for myself anyway).  It’s not to imply there’s anything wrong with being good at one thing and making a living at it, but at the same time when all your energy is put into one thing for so long, it’s hard to break away from that the day you do decide you want something more in your life.  

A job is something that can’t be held.  It’s just something you do like anything else.  A job doesn’t mean anything one way or the other accept what you decide you want out of it, and if its going to help you find your real goals in life.  And if you don’t know what your goals in life are right away, that’s okay too.  In life I believe there‘s two things: what we think we want and what we know we want.  There is a difference between thinking and knowingIt’s a much bigger life struggle when your brain tells you what you should be doing, and you fight and fight through a life struggle reaching for something that may turn out to be not what you really wanted at all.  The other thing is that the things we think we want may turn out to be the things other people want for us instead of what we want for ourselves.  But knowing what you want is different.  It comes from the unexpected, and it comes from taking a chance on something we wouldn’t ordinarily do.  Underneath everything you think you know is your true voice.  And when you start listening to that voice, you don’t have to go searching for your life.  Your life eventually finds you.  

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