Following the Yellow Brick Road

This is a post that I have been thinking about for a long time, but I just haven’t quite gotten around to writing. I think that is mainly because the idea is so central to how I felt about My Year of TED from about 5 months in, and I want to get this post right. But if all I ever do is write it in my head then it will never happen, and I can always improve on it later, so here goes.

At about the five month mark in My Year of TED I had this realisation that my life was something like the Wizard of Oz from this project. I started drawing the analogy and it sat well that I was like the four main characters. The activities I was doing and the main themes that were underpinning them followed what I feel the main characters really wanted.

The Characters and Me
As the Scarecrow I wanted a brain, I wanted more wisdom and a greater understanding of my life and the world around me. Part of writing the blog and trying to absorb and consume all of the knowledge of the TED talks was theoretical, it was about improving my mind.

As the Tin Man I wanted a heart, I wanted to be more compassionate to myself and others. This included connecting on a deeper level with the people around me, as well as the purely compassion-based activities themselves.

As the Lion I wanted courage, I wanted to be braver and be more willing to stand up for my authentic self and the things that were important to me. There were so many activities that required me to be more courageous, and of course writing the blog was the ultimate in making myself completely vulnerable, which is a very courageous thing to do.

And Dorothy, how was I Dorothy? Well, in the Wizard of Oz Dorothy is a small girl who takes on some very difficult challenges in the hope of being able to return home. In this analogy I see Dorothy representing authenticity, she is discovering who she is and the strengths and abilities that she possesses so she can return home. For me, this was trying to rediscover the things that I truly want from my life, after a lifetime of allowing other people to influence and sometimes even make those decisions for me.

Which brings us to the witches and the wizard, where do they fit into the journey. The way I see it, the tornado dumped me into Oz (the amazing world of technicolor) when I started my Year of TED, crushing the first evil witch of self-doubt in the process (okay she’s not actually dead, but very much diminished). The other wicked witch represents all of the other negative self-talk and weak behaviours that I have attempted to destroy in the process.

The Characters and other people
Glinda was my internal champion, but she also represents the people in my life who helped guide me through this journey. They are the amazing TED speakers whose talks I used in the Project, and the people around me who helped me through this very challenging year.

And the Wizard, I think that role would have to go to TED’s Chris Anderson for making TED what it is today, and making it something that helped me find my own way home.

Lastly, and that it certainly not in order of importance, I think that all of this makes Derek my Toto. He has been here through the whole thing, suffered at the hands of all of my misguided decisions, and managed to keep me sane throughout the journey.

Like I said in the beginning of the post, this became a very important analogy for me during My Year of TED. It helped me focus on what I was  trying to achieve from the project, and it was fun to think of myself as the characters at certain times, especially during the tough activities. It also gave me an internal soundtrack for some of the activities, of course centred around the following:

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high
There’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream,
Really do come true.

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