Storytelling Matters

The Live Art and the Power of Words

Reimagining Beauty – W is for Wisdom

Blogging A to Z

If you are new to this blog, welcome!

For my Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, I am writing about how storytellers, writers, parents, teachers (in other words, just about anyone) can reimagine beauty to be more inclusive. That way, people with disabilities, varying body types and racial backgrounds, etc. (in other words, anyone) can feel and be recognized by the world as the beauties they truly are.

Reimagining Beauty – W is for Wisdom

When people think of The Good Witch of the North, they immediately think of a glamorous witch called Glinda. But there is no such character in the book from whence she came – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

There is Glinda, the Good Witch of the South. Dorothy visits her at the end of the book. The woman who Dorothy encounters early on in the story, in Munchkinland, is called The Witch of the North. Her name is not Glinda, and she is not a bubble-riding glam girl. The Witch of the North is described as an ancient and wrinkled old woman.

Does this surprise you? It surprised me, growing up as I did on the movie version of the story.

Since I love to parody and fracture familiar stories, I wrote an offbeat rap of the book (puns always intended). My Witch of the North is old and wrinkly, as Baum wrote her. But I carry his idea few steps further. I describe her as an old and wise crone – and Dorothy finds her beautiful.

In my version, Dorothy recognizes the true beauty of the wonderful helper who can light her way on the path back home. That is because older eyes are beacons of understanding. Wrinkles are a road map of someone’s experience. It is a beautiful ‘ah’ moment when we encounter someone who can help us navigate a crisis. Showered with answers, we feel immense comfort and relief. Dorothy landed in the strange land of Oz and met a wisdom-bearer. Like an oracle, she was Dorothy’s salvation because she had an answer.

Wisdom is a great boon. Those who have it are fountains of sagacity. Even trickles of their wisdom can help individuals, society, and posterity. When we acknowledge the beauty in wisdom, especially in our youth-focused culture, we recognize beautiful people who are typically excluded from membership in the beauty club.

Elderhood is not the only qualification to be a wisdom-bearer. People of any age who study and practice skills can be wise about their specialties. People of any age who live with disabilities, suffer discrimination, experience hardships or wonders have knowledge that others can learn from. People of any age can have the experience and knowledge that adds up to wisdom.

Let’s be wise and remember to acknowledge beauty that is wrought from wisdom. Our mentors, our friends, our parents, our elders, our children, our teachers, and everyone carrying this beautiful and world-changing quality deserve to be recognized for their beauty.

Somewhat related – Perhaps you have seen this viral video. It shows an 80 year old woman dancing like someone one quarter her age. She does it beautifully, partly because it just is and partly because of her age. Who are the beautiful wisdom bearers you have come across in life and literature?

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Copyright 2014 The Storycrafters. All rights reserved.

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6 thoughts on “Reimagining Beauty – W is for Wisdom

  1. “Elderhood is not the only qualification to be a wisdom-bearer.” Good point. A person can be wise at 25 or younger. A person can be not-wise at three times that age if he or she has not learned from all that experience.

    • You add a great point here, thank you! The subtle yet important thing is that just because one is older doesn’t mean that one is wise. So one CAN be wise as an elder thanks to experience – and others can even if they aren’t elders. Yes, very important thanks very much for commenting!!

  2. Ed Hotaling on said:

    “Every man is my superior in that I may learn from him.” I don’t know the exact origin of this quote, but I picked it up from the TV show “Al in The Family” many years ago. It seemed so profound that I have never forgotten it.
    The cool thing is that it has proven to be true. I have found wisdom in people of every age and description. All I have to do is listen. We all know things that others don’t.
    Keep the wisdom of the elders flowing, but don’t discount the wisdom of the young. They have their own unique perspectives.

  3. Wisdom is so important and sometimes so hard to convey in the written word. Enjoyed reading your insight!

    • Indeed it is tricky, that’s why this post, to be a spark plug to doing it, consider some ways to do it. But writers and storytellers, who spend much time considering every word, are up to the challenge.

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