Wednesday, March 17, 2021

How to Defy Gravity

Maybe I'm fixated on her verdigris, but nobody does self reflection better than Elphaba. Halfway through the popular show Wicked, this green girl goes through a major life change and finally takes flight as we all knew she would. I can relate. At the midpoint of my life, I also went through some big changes and finally realized my true worth and power.

Something has changed within me. Something is not the same.

Elphaba has lived her life making herself small, feeling like an outsider, wondering why she was given a "gift or a curse". Then she has an event that changes her dramatically. When I was 42 (the answer to life, the universe, and everything), I had several things happen to me in a short amount of time: I witnessed my best friend's suicide, my wife left the Church, my son was diagnosed with brain damage. I went to therapy, and I quickly realized how much I despised myself because of my own "gift or a curse" I had inside. And it was right there in that therapy session that I decided to go on a journey of loving myself. Little did I know it would be setting off on a journey to work on my mental health, and eventually to defy my own gravity.  

I'm through with playing by the rules of someone else's game.

Elphaba is done listening to what others think and how they judge her. Screw them all! She doesn't know why she has this magical ability, but she knows it's part of her and she's ready to accept this aspect of her person, no matter how scary it might be. I'm still working on this part, I'm a work in progress, afterall! But I know that the more I stop worrying about the judgments of others, the closer I come to fully accepting myself, the way God intends me to love myself. 

Too late for second-guessing. Too late to go back to sleep.

This is Pandora's box. Once you've passed the point of no return, it's impossible to go back and wonder if you made the right choice. For better or for worse, this is the choice that was made, and it's time to follow through. You can never go back to numbing yourself and hiding parts of yourself. 

It's time to trust my instincts. Close my eyes and leap!

This right here. This is faith at its essence! When I was going through my self realization, I learned more about prayer and faith than I ever did in my entire life. I learned what it meant to pray, feel I received an answer, and then act on it. It's as scary and vulnerable as facing a great and powerful wizard, but it's the only way one can truly fly.

I'm through accepting limits 'cause someone says they're so.

Who is the "someone"? And why do we worry about what others say we can or can't do? We know ourselves, and we can do whatever we put our minds to. As Elphaba says, "Unlimited! My future is unlimited!" (By the way, fun fact: Did you know those first 7 syllables are the same notes as "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"?) Elphaba starts the show thinking she is limited in her ability to make changes, in her ability to fully realize her life. But when she finally rejects all those who limit her, she learns how powerful she was born to be. Likewise, humans are literal children of God. Get rid of the toxic and abusive people in your life. We were born to be unlimited. 

Some things I cannot change but 'til I try, I'll never know!

This should be the mantra of every person who wants to continue growing and learning throughout life. True, there are things that we don't have power over, and that's just fine. But we might surprise ourselves with the influence and power to change that we really do possess. But it requires us to close our eyes and leap!

I'm flying high, defying gravity!

End of the first act concludes with both a literal and figurative high note. Elphaba flies! She defies the wizard, she defies Glinda, and she even defies her own self doubt. Anything that pulls her down, she sheds, and she finally takes flight to the Western Sky. And haven't we all felt moments like these, where we can feel ourselves breaking past all the judgments of others, including the judgments we put on ourselves? (And if you haven't ever felt this sense of freedom, ask yourself what area of your life you can close your eyes and leap?)

And so Wicked has taught me that I am really am the unpopular freak with the green face. And when I finally learned to accept this fact -- accept who I am, embrace the weird, and let my freak flag fly -- that's when I finally found the magic to soar high. And if I'm flying solo, at least I'm flying free. And nobody is ever gonna bring me down!


  1. This is the best analogy I've ever read. Absolutely love it! Who is this person saying we can't do it? We never know till we try and shed those that hold us down! Love it! Thank you Ryan!

    1. Thanks Kim. I appreciate that you see the analogy too! I find Elphaba's example to be inspiring. She makes me want to try harder to improve my life.

  2. This is the best analogy I've ever read. Absolutely love it! Who is this person saying we can't do it? We never know till we try and shed those that hold us down! Love it! Thank you Ryan!

  3. I love this! I’m impressed with your writing, as always.