Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. – L. Frank Baum (as spoken by Dorothy in his masterpiece The Wizard of Oz)
What does that mean?
This saying has become a cultural metaphor in English speaking countries (and perhaps other places as well) which means we are not in a place with which we are familiar. It implies different rules, different customs, and few, if any familiar objects or activities. Which is exactly where Dorothy ended up.
The quote is stated by Dorothy, the main character, to her dog near the beginning of an epic tale of discovery, where the journey was even more important than the destination, where the lessons learned were life-changing, and the dangers and challenges helped the characters grow.
In the story, she changes from a scared and insecure little girl to a relatively self-reliant and responsible young adult. Along the way, she makes some friends, and together they solve their problems and grow along the way.
All because they were not, in fact, in Kansas anymore. She was out of her comfort zone, and needed to grow, adapt, and learn in order to survive. She learned to help her friends and to accept help from them, as well as accepting responsibility for her actions, or the lack thereof.
Why is the journey important?
To me, the point of the journey is what happens to you along the way. What can you learn from what happens along the way? What can you take away from your experiences? Life isn’t predictable, and you will often find your best laid plans disrupted, so be flexible.
Learning to roll with the changes and accept the changes that life sends your way is part of growing up. Children whine and cower when things don’t go their way, as the Dorothy did at the very beginning of the story. But by the end, the journey had taught her to take responsibility and be assertive.
Everyone’s journey will be different. What is important, in my mind, is that you learn from the experience, and are better for the experience. Even unpleasant turns in the journey of life can lead to new insights, important distinctions, and great things. You can either learn from, or ignore, everything that happens to you in life. Your future will be shaped by what you learn from, as well as what you ignore.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Have you ever had a non-trivial plan go EXACTLY as you expected? I know I haven’t. Sometimes, I have problems doing the simplest things, when life throws me a curve. Plans for yard work are routinely changed by the weather, right?
Even something as simple as popping the question to my wife didn’t go as planned. I was planning on asking her after dessert. While waiting for dessert, I took advantage of her visiting the ‘powder room’ to get the ring out. However, she got back, and dessert was not there.
I almost dropped the ring, which I was nervously passing from hand to hand under the table. I had to improvise and ask her earlier than I had expected, which made the desert a bit anti-climatic. But somehow, I managed to roll with the changes and learn that having some flexibility is essential when planning.
How well do you handle unexpected changes? If they bother you, do you know why? Is it because you don’t have the flexibility to roll with the changes, or are you someone who prefers a neat and predictable life? Knowing yourself and how you react to the unexpected is important if you are going to make the most of your experiences.
Think of some of your more interesting detours in life. What did you learn when you went off the planned path? How did you apply your experiences to your future travels down life’s path? Do you look forward to your next journey with dread or anticipation?
Your life will most likely be full of opportunities to try new things and to explore, as life changes around you and bends your path. I would suggest keeping an open mind and a joyous spirit, even if all appears to be going from bad to worse.
I met my wife shortly after going through a nasty divorce and a bankruptcy. Yes, it’s possible to have darker days than that, but I’ve never been in a worse spot. From that twisted road, came great things, because I was willing to look for the good in the situation.
Life is kind of like this post. It winds around, and drifts in unexpected directions. Learn to roll with the changes and try to learn something or come away with a new distinction (a better way of determining what you want from what you don’t want) from every experience. They won’t all be pleasant, but they will shape you and your future.
I also try to have fun along the way. How about you, are you ready for some fun?
From: Twitter, @0xSegfault
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/l/lfrankbau379189.html
Photo by JoshBerglund19
Happy Birthday to L. Frank Baum, born 15 May, 1856.