Tonight will be the 4th time I wall see the show Wicked. This is a musical that never stops speaking to me. When I first saw it and dove into the soundtrack, I kept going back to a line in the song “Thank Goodness” when Glinda is rising in her fame and, well, popularity, but at the expense of her friend. She sings about how she couldn’t be happier with her fairy tail happy ending… “because happy is what happens when all your dreams come true”. And then, as she realizes what she had to sacrifice to get to this place, and all she learned on the way to the top, she realizes she actually isn’t that happy and she sings:
“thats why I couldn’t be happier, no, I couldn’t be happier, oh is I admit, a tiniest bit, unlike I anticipated. But, I couldn’t be happier, simply couldn’t be happier, well, not simply, cause getting your dreams, as strange as it seems, is a little, well, complicated. Theres’ a kinda a sorta cost, there’s a couple of things get lost, there are bridges you crossed you didnt’ know you crossed until you crossed. And if that joy that thrill, doesn’t thill like you think it will, still, with this perfect finale the cheers and the ballyhoo, who wouldnt be happier, so I wouldn’t be happier, because happy is what happens when all your dreams come true, well isnt it? Happy is what happens when your dreams come true”
And at 30 years old, with a husband, 2 kids, a house and a great job, my childhood dreams had come true. Except, I grew up in the meantime. And my childhood dreams were not my adult dreams. I wanted to travel, I wanted to live outside Grand Rapids, outside the States! I wanted to be surrounded by people that were not like me and people with different beliefs and ideas. I wanted culture at my fingertips. I wanted a nanny and a maid and a chef. And somehow, hearing Glinda come to terms with her choices made it easier for me. It helped me find balance. I was able to start making more active choices about what I wanted in life instead of waiting.
There were times where I had to play “Defying Gravity” over and over and over, channeling my inner Elphaba. Making sacrifices for important causes. Giving up the facade of an easy and cautious life to remind myself that “something had changed with in me, and “I was through by playing by the rules of someone else’s game”. It was “Time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap” I embraced the line “Everyone deserves a chance to fly”.
And here I sit, 41 years old, in the complete insanity of what America has become in the last year. Seeing stories of hate and destruction every day. Watching people get hurt, bullied, scared and dehumanized. This agenda of fake news and pushing lies that are really truth. Throwing blame anywhere and everywhere but ourselves. Righteousness.
I listen to the soundtrack of Wicked, and understand with new insights, Elphaba’s road to “Wickedness”. This powerful group of people, who don’t like different, or unique, or things they don’t understand, can vilify a person. Elphaba stood up for what she believed in, fought against the mainstream mindset, asked people to see things they did not want to see. And that made people uncomfortable. So they decided to change history a little bit. And the stories grew and were exaggerated, and became the new truth. The truth people wanted.
I think of the “Muslim Ban” and the skewed news on immigration and the lies that are told so often, everyone who wants to believe them start believing them (“I never said that!” Thats fake news!” “I’m draining the swamp” etc, etc, etc).
But I don’t just see this in politics. I see it everywhere. I have experienced it smaller communities, workplaces, neighborhoods, schools, and churches. And sometimes I am the powerful group. The one that rewrites history to help my own story. And sometimes I am the victim of it. Stories told by others to make it look like I am a part of something bad. And none of this should be happening. It hurts to be pushed to the bottom. The become the excuse so someone else doesn’t have to feel uncomfortable. Or to feel so uncomfortable it is easier to put the blame on others.
I think about this need to climb to the top. To be accepted and popular and loved and held in esteem. Instead of being vulnerable. Authentic. (I am listening to Wicked and reading Brene Brown, so that explains a lot of this!). I don’t know how to fix this. I do know I don’t want to be a part of it. I want the courage of Elphaba. To take on the cause even though it destroys everything for her. Because it is that important. And I want to see the Elphaba’s of the world, so I can stand along side them. So they are not alone. Like I did with the millions of women across the world who marched together to send the powerful message of equality, love and acceptance.
Because I want to meet people that will change me for good. And I hope people can say, after they have met me: