This past weekend marked the end of another summer and the introduction back to a busier, more full schedule. So I did what many others did, I took full advantage of the last quiet days to lie around and relax. With no major family commitments on hand, I was looking forward to a well deserved couch and complete with television time. As I scanned the stations, I caught the beginning of one of my childhood favorites, The Wiz. I decided that Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Richard Pryor along with other icons would be a great way to spend my afternoon. As I got into the storyline, out of nowhere light bulbs began going off. For the first time I saw some valuable life lessons that can be applied immediately.
Introduced by Motown Productions and Universal Pictures in 1978, The Wiz received critical acclaim across all ethnicities and audiences. In fact, it was nominated for four Academy Awards the following year. We have all seen it, sang to it and even got up and 'eased on down the road' with it. What's not to love about a film depicting redemption, networking and personal development? Each character seemed to have their own story and set of challenges; one by one they connected together and formed an allegiance to see each other get better. I noticed some really cool things about life through watching for the 100th time.
• Despite what others say, you CAN win: One of the standout numbers of the whole film has Michael Jackson center stage. But oddly enough, it wasn't his smooth moves getting the attention, but his impeccable vocals. The Scarecrow scene has the old 'crows' yapping and constantly reminding him that no matter what happens, he could never win. That is a powerful statement because it is all encompassing. You can't win in your finances, your life or even relationships. You are dammed in a sense. But what Dorothy proved was that anyone can in fact win with the right support system in place. Whoever said words don't hurt lied. They not only hurt but can leave scars. Real friends are those who pick you up and never use the old scars from words to hurt you again.
• Don't nobody bring me no bad news: One scene that always got me as a kid was captured at Evillene's Sweat Shop with her belting out she preferred no one to bring her 'no bad news'! Mabel King coined her southern vernacular long before internet sensation Sweet Brown with her saying "Ain't nobody got time for that." Now I am fully aware that Evillene is a bad character, but you've got to admit that her message is pretty good. She says she wants to be surrounded by people who have learned the rules, she demands positivity in her ear twenty four seven! This is not an option. Think about it, if you put a demand on your circle of influence to keep gossip, bad opinions and other such trash out of your conversations, imagine how free you will become.
• Ease on down the road: Probably the hallmark number from the movie, 'Ease on Down The Road' has worked its way onto thousands of productions from Broadway to Hollywood and countless school plays. Easily one of my family's favorites; it gets you in a good old churchy mood. I can picture Dorothy and Scarecrow freeing themselves through vibrant dance as they hurry to Emerald City. What's amazing is this song is counted four times throughout the movie, once each time a new partner was added. This speaks volumes because expanding your circle and vision should be welcomed with encouragement. Only add people who are going to fall into the vision of the group and be willing to speak encouraging words to everyone. No room for haters here! We refuse to carry anything that might be a load, let's ease on down the road.
You would most likely fry your brain trying to count the number of times you've caught The Wiz as you scanned the channels and found yourself watching it until the end. To this day, I have awesome memories of sitting next to my mom and watching the whole movie without once getting up for a bathroom break. I would dare say if you are anything like my wife, you actually own a couple of copies on both video cassette, DVD and the Soundtrack on CD. It just represents good wholesome fun. But what I found out over the weekend was it actually held a little bit more. There are lessons all around us, but that day I am glad it came in the form of a musical.