On The Yellow Brick Road
I saw The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland this past week and was again impressed with the majesty of the film. The characters symbolize all the human emotions of love, friendship, bravery, avarice and fear. The Munchkins tell Dorothy to follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Great Wizard in the City of Oz and all her questions and desires will be answered. Along the road she bonds with the lion, tin man and scarecrow, all who have their own quest. Dangers aplenty confront the quartet, especially in the guise of the Wicked Witch of the West. But they ultimately prevail. Dorothy proves to be dogged in her pursuit, hurtling over disappointment and treachery. Yet, even at the moment of triumph when the hot air balloon will transport her back to Kansas, the opportunity proves elusive as the balloon lifts to the horizon without her. She is then advised that she possessed the power to go home all along. Dorothy need only tap her ruby slippers together three times and she would be transported back to Kansas. And she does ultimately find her way home.
The yellow brick road enabled Dorothy to learn and grow. It has a beginning and an end, a start and a destination. The road meanders, offers challenges, proves dangerous when abandoned, and quixotic at its end. Dorothy certainly learns that promises are illusory, friends are resourceful, and those who assert wisdom are not necessarily assertive. Things are not what they seem and seemingly insignificant acts are crucial and significant. Dorothy returns to Kansas only when she learns to trust herself. The yellow brick road offers direction; it offers an opportunity to learn; and, ultimately, it offers the potential of growth.
And so it is with many seniors. Being a senior means you have successfully navigated childhood, adolescence and adulthood. You may or may not have achieved your ambitions, lay claim to your goals, or forged an identity worthy of remembrance. But you certainly have navigated the yellow brick road in terms of longevity. Whether you have learned the truths sprinkled on the road and demonstrated growth of character, fortune and wisdom must be evaluated by each individual. As the road meanders, we all falter, catch our balance, fall and get up; we all learn we can become anything; but it is through growth we make sense of anything. It is through learning we become adults, but it is through growth that we become seniors. The City of Oz, being at the end of the road, was once a distant goal, its image illusory. But now that we are at the end of that road, it is the looking back that seems unreal and ephemeral. We live in the present; the past is a memory; the future only speculation. We have learned much in our travels, but it is now that seniors can truly grow. The City of Oz is not only a destination; it is a place of learning and growth. What you now accomplish each day as a senior will insure that lessons learned on the yellow brick road are transformed into a dynamic sense of self.
Let us take the simple concept of exercise. On our life journey, we learn that exercise is good for us. The stressing of muscles, the playing of a team sport, the ease of swimming or the grace of jogging are activities that permit our bodies to perform as intended. We have the bodies of hunters and were not meant to sit for extended periods or stand idle while others are in motion. Our bodies are designed to run, jump, walk distance and arm carry anything our hands can grasp. We are athletes and, even as seniors, can strengthen the body we depend on for mobility, agility and flexibility. If the yellow brick road has taught us anything, it is that we are creatures of movement; and to move you require strength; to be agile you require speed; and to be flexible you require elasticity. At any age, exercise stresses muscles which in turn respond and bequeath a confidence of movement, balance and strength. Through growth you can make sense of anything, including claiming ownership of an aged but wondrous body.
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