Thursday, October 13, 2005

Where is "somewhere over the rainbow"?

A chance for a glimpse at my amazingly random thought processes...

So, as I traveled home from work this evening (a lovely trip, by the way), the weather was trying to decide whether to sprinkle a few raindrops or save them for later, and I got to thinking...where there's rain, there's a rainbow, right? So, how come I've never seen a rainbow in Boston? And that got me thinking about all sorts of things involving rainbows...pots of gold and leprechauns, the colors on the color palette, and going over the rainbow, finding where it ends, ya know? We all grew up with that stuff. We also grew up with an insane fascination with that place "somewhere over the rainbow." C'mon, you know you're even now still fascinated with that somewhere deep inside, right? Where is that place? Somewhere over the rainbow...way up high...the place you've heard of in lullabies...where skies are blue...and the dreams you dare to dream really do come true.

Okay, so now I'm just quoting the song...[but I did say you'd get a glimpse of one of my randomly strung together thought processes--and now you have that song stuck in your head just like I do!]

But, getting back to that place "somewhere over the rainbow" (or, let's shorten it since I foresee me using that phrase as the name of this place quite often in this post: SWOTR). You've heard the song, so many times that the words feel like a part of you. You could sing it in your sleep! But have you ever stopped to think of where SWOTR actually is? Me neither...and that's where my thoughts led me today on my way home from work...

We learn from Dorothy, of Kansas, that SWOTR is a land called Oz. Okay. Let's run with that. Her version of Oz is a land filled with Munchkins, Witches, talking Scarecrows and Tinmen and Lions, an Emerald City, and a mysterious Wizard. A world alive with color (a drastic contrast with her drab, black & white Kansas farm) and totally different from the world she knows. A world she's always dreamed could exist, and one she was probably searching for when she tried to run away from home in the beginning of the story.

But what if that's not necessarily what Oz really is? Say I had gotten caught in that house in the tornado...where would I land after I'd traveled over the rainbow? I'm not convinced that I'd land in Dorothy's Oz. [You think I'm reading way too far into the story of the Wizard of Oz, don't you? Well, just run with me for a bit, humor me a little. You don't have to agree...]

SWOTR. The place of our dreams. A place so drastically different from what we're used to. Kind of like how Boston feels to me some days compared to my childhood home in a small suburb of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Now, I'm not claiming that Boston is Oz. Well, not totally. But think about what "Oz" (aka SWOTR) represents. A place we long to see when home seems too dull, too commonplace, too 'been-there-done-that'. I left Minnesota because I needed a change of pace. I seeked out a place that was very different from what I'm used to. I wanted a different part of the country, a different style of life, a different type of people. I went in search of a city because I figured that would be very different from small-town/suburban life. And it is. Boston is sort of like my own SWOTR. It is a different color, a different place, a new group of people, a whole different world than the one I'm used to in Minnesota. I said that I'm not claiming Boston is Oz, but I do claim that Boston is my Oz. My SWOTR.

So, this got me to thinking: everyone has an SWOTR, right? They have to. Everyone dreams of a place different (and that tends to be paired with "better") than the place they are used to. The place they're from. Is a Bostonian's SWOTR necessarily Minnesota since my SWOTR is Boston? Certainly not. Other Minnesotans' SWOTRs may not necessarily be Boston, and there's really no sense of a reciprocal. I guess it doesn't even really matter what a given Bostonian's SWOTR is. What does matter is that said Bostonian (or Georgian, or Texan, or Minnesotan, or Canadian, or Mongolian, or whoever) has their own version of SWOTR.

My next question: is everyone's SWOTR a real place? Now, that's a tough one. One could argue, and have most of the world believe them, that Dorothy's Oz is not a real place. Hers was a fantasy, a fairy tale. I don't know that I can answer that for every single person out there, but generally speaking, I think that SWOTR, the abstract idea, is a real place. Perhaps when we find it, it isn't 100% the way we've imagined it to be, but it is real. And it seems to me that people, all people, are on a quest to find their own SWOTR. I'm not saying this is a world-wide obsession. No, no. I am saying that deep down inside, we are all looking for SWOTR. Perhaps it changes over time. Perhaps the SWOTR of my youth is different from my SWOTR today. I'm not sure (haven't thought that far yet). But it's that quest that drives us to seek out new places and new experiences. Something deep inside screams at us to explore and find new places, in hope of someday coming across SWOTR. And once you find it, it changes. Because wherever you are, there is always a place that is drastically different from your current location. Multiple places, in fact.

All of this pontificating about SWOTR and my Oz being different from Dorothy's Oz and so on...has reminded me of the lesson we learn from Dorothy and her adventure over the rainbow to her Oz: that place over the rainbow is the stuff of dreams, an amazing rush of new experiences and new sights, sounds, smells. But in the end, there's no place like home. In the end, after all of the searching for SWOTR, there will never be anywhere quite like home.

So, how does that tidbit fit into my string of ideas on the existence of SWOTR? Simple. Our whole life has this underlying quest to find SWOTR, the place of our dreams, the place so drastically different from where we are now. But what keeps us sane, what keeps us from wasting our lives away on an obsession with finding that place just beyond our reach, is that there is no place like home. Home is where the heart is. Home is where you hang your hat. Home is wherever you wipe your shoes at night. My definition of home is not a solitary place, but a place familiar enough to allow you ultimate comfort without need to worry about appearances or wrong ways of thinking, a place where you can just be yourself. And after all of that searching, deep inside of myself, day after day, for SWOTR, it's nice to remember that there really is no place like home.

To bring this to a close, I mentioned earlier in this post that I consider Boston to be my SWOTR. (So now am I again searching for a new SWOTR? Dunno, haven't been in Boston long enough...) So, in that scenario, where is "home?" Home will always be Minnesota. This scenario, of my SWOTR = Boston, is a different years and decades of life as opposed to the day-to-day. Over the next few years of my life, I know I will travel and try new places to live, but someday, I see myself returning to MN. I love my life in Boston right now, but it's a comfort to know that Minnesota is there, waiting to welcome me everytime I return.

Somewhere over the rainbow, where the excitement of a new world lies, that's where you'll find me. And when the dream fades, the journey beyond this rainbow is through, [oh, it's corny, you know it's coming] there really

SWOTR can be a scary place. Who said it was going to be made up of things that YOU think are good? It could be your world turned upside down- a HELL. The Dark Side of the Moon
Ah yes, indeed. I've yet to watch the Wizard of Oz while listening to that album. I hear it's eerie... But, I'm a forever-optimist, so I have to believe that things are generally good there. And, the way I see it, SWOTR sort of a made-up place, right? An ideal. (Boston is certainly not the amazing, nothing-wrong-here, sun's-always-shining place that I saw in my mind's eye as I prepared to move here from MN.) Call me idealistic...I am. Call me naive for thinking the best of things...or delusional...or unrealistic. I call myself happy.
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