What Lessons Can I Learn from the Tin Man?

Part I Robin B. DilleyPhD.

            Many fairy tales, legends, and stories take place inthe forest because of the pervasive fear people have of dark wooded unknownareas. From ancient times until our modern world today, the metaphor of the forestin our lives provides us with opportunities to face our fears and begin healing.The Wizard of Oz is a wonderful metaphor about the forest in our lives because theYellow Brick Rod, meanders through a dark and menacing forest.  As their path meanders into a forest, the forest grows very dark, very thick, and becomes hard to navigate. Right beforeDorothy and the Scarecrow Discover the Tin Man, the trees come to life,taunting and throwing apples at them. Dorothy seizes this opportunity to collect the apples for nourishment and finds the Tin Man.

            The Tin Man, who had been frozen in place for over ayear, could not move or speak, only making screeching sounds through his frozen mouth.  It is the Scarecrow that understands that there is an oil can nearby.  Dorothy and the Scarecrow work  together loosening first the Tin Man’s mouth and then his body. Once the Tin Man was well oiled, he told Dorothy and the Scarecrow his doleful story of how he came to be alone in the forest, rusted and forgotten. Dorothy and the Scarecrow invited him on their journey down theYellow Brick Road on a quest to find the Wizard of Oz. 

            When we read about their journey together, the hardships and support they share, we can relate to their suffering and their successes. Each character in the story is a part of us at some point in our life. Each character has a story of their own. Examining the Tin Man for example, explores his losses, but most importantly, the actions in his life that ultimately lead him to meet Dorothy and the Scarecrow.

In the Tin Man’s personal story, he had fallen in love with a young woman who was working for an old woman, cooking and cleaning for her. The young woman had agreed to marry the Tin Man, if in return he would work hard to build a bigger house for them to live. The Tin-Man was a hard working woodsman and was so in love he started working even harder right away. 

            Sadly, the old woman had other plans, as she did not wantto lose her servant girl. The old woman sought out the Wicked Witch of the East and paid her to get rid of the handsome young woodsman. The Wicked Witch of theEast cursed the woodsman’s ax. Each time he used his axe, he cut off another part of himself. First his legs; his arms; his head; and last swing split him in half, causing him to lose his heart. The village tin smith showed mercy on the woodsman and was able to put him back to together again, all except a heart. The Tin Man gave up hope he could ever really love the young woman, so he lived alone in the forest. One afternoon, when he was chopping wood, a big storm came out of nowhere, rusting the Tin Man before he could make it back to his cottage.  Soon, he found himself immobilized and frozen in the forest. 

            Here are some journaling questions for you:

            How is your life story like that of the Tin Man? 

            How has your heart been broken over the years?

            Each time it was broken, what part of yourself did you lose?

            Now, after so many years and stories of hurt, where are you? 

            How have you minimized your pain? 

            How have you “normalized” your losses?

Pay special attention to the background story Baum tells us about the young woman who made her choice to marry the Tin Man conditional:  “Build me a bigger house, and I will marry you.”  There is a part of each of us that bargains with ourselves and others. When I ______________, I will. 

What bargains have you made with yourself that has ended up costing you more of yourself in the long run?  Sabotage is tricky business and self-sabotage lives in the dark corners of our psyche,setting ourselves up for failure. We must learn how to negotiate this forest of our lives and discover ways to heal our disappointed hearts in order to become mobile again. 

Stay Tuned for Part 2. In themeantime, check out the flyer and sign-up to experience and process your story while you find your way out of the forest and regain your heart. Next time we’ll discuss more about the self-sabotage of bargaining and explore what we lose when we don’t use our voice. 

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2 thoughts on “What Lessons Can I Learn from the Tin Man?

  1. A great and insightful read.

    Liked by 1 person

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