Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Tin Woodman, the Tin Woodsman, the Tinman, and Me...

Now I know I've got a heart, 'cause it's breaking
"For brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world." --The Tin Woodman

He wasn't always The Tin Woodman. As a matter of fact sometimes he was referred to as the Tin Woodsman, but we know him as the Tinman. Before he was the Tinman he was a Munchkin named Nick Chopper, flesh and bone.
Unlike the classic story we all know, the origins of the character are rather gruesome. Nick Chopper made his living chopping down trees in Oz. The Wicked Witch of the East placed a spell on his axe at the request of his fiancée's father preventing him from marrying the girl he loved. The enchanted axe caused Nick to chop off his limbs one by one. Nick replaced each limb with a prosthetic limb made of tin. Eventually, there was nothing left of Nick but tin. The tinsmith, Ku-Klip, who helped him, had forgotten to replace his heart leaving him unable to love the girl he had fallen for. The Tinman is born while Nick Chopper ceased to exist.
We know the story of how the Tinman joins up with Dorothy for her journey to the Emerald City. But what probably 90% of its audience doesn't know is that along the way he proves himself useful by chopping wood to build a bridge or raft and chopping the heads off of threatening animals. Throughout the journey it was the Tinman that was the most compassionate and most protective. Rather than missing his original body of flesh, the Tinman becomes rather proud, rather too proud, of his tin body. Unlike in the movie, in the original published book one hundred years ago, when the party finally received what they were each seeking from the Wizard, the Wizard cut a hole in the Tinman's chest and placed a silk heart stuffed with sawdust, symbolizing to be very soft and tender.

One of Tinman's weaknesses was moisture. His own tears, dew, and rain caused him to rust and "freeze" in place. At times his own emotions got the best of him causing him to become "stuck" and not only unproductive but also almost causing himself and his friends to pay the price. Rather than learn how to give and receive love and develop his emotions with his new heart he eventually had himself nickel-plated. It was a quick fix for a problem he never dealt with. As a result the Tinman became his own enemy. However, he continued to worry about rusting throughout the Oz series. It was a constant burden he carried.  Along with his unresolved problems and broken heart he caged himself up inside his nickel-plated armor.
Eventually the Tinman set out to find his lost love, only to discover she had married a man that had been constructed partly out of Nick Choppers discarded limbs. The encounters with his former fiancée and meeting another tin man that took parts of himself while conversing with his own ill tempered original head, was more than he could bear leaving the Tinman regretful of ever replacing his heart.
I state in a previous blog how much of a fan I am of The Wizard of Oz. I'm positive it's because of the Tinman. For years he's been my favorite and I've felt I can relate to him. I had somewhat envied him.
I deal with bipolar and I deal with Parkinson's. I've dealt with bipolar since I was child. I've dealt with Parkinson's for the last seven years; however studies show non-motor symptoms occur prior to the initial physical manifestations. So who knows how long I've actually been dealing with it.
I've likened my bipolar to the Tinman. He knew he physically had no heart, but his behavior clearly proves he had the biggest heart out of their bunch. Just the fact that he had the desire for a heart and would go on a quest shows he was capable of love. But what had always sounded enticing was having no heart. Not being able to feel the emotional whirlwind of constant ups and downs and never knowing who you are going to be from time to time is more than appealing. That was the past.
What about Parkinson's, because that's where the focus is?
I remember 7 years ago when my right hand began twitching. It was a constant tremor nothing more than annoying. I was already seeing a neurologist for my migraines so after talking to my primary care physician about it he advised me to speak with him.
I'd be a phony if I tried to deny the fact that I have and do go through a grieving process each time I lose, no matter the percentage of any ability, whether motor or non-motor symptoms. It will continue to happen.
When my Parkinson's symptoms became more pronounced not long ago I started focusing more on information that is available about it, whether it's on the internet or books, or whatever. I have been journaling for years, and I have written a few posts on my Facebook page too. I've always loved reading memoirs that related to the things I do, especially my field of psychology. I have many in my personal library. So it wasn't long that I had started reading various blogs by many different individuals that were also dealing with Parkinson's. Some had been dealing with it for 5, 10, 15, almost 20 years. Some were no older than I. Some were diagnosed when they were no older than I. Some were in their 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's, and even 70's. Some were as young as I when their symptoms began, their late 20's.
They each have very different personal stories, yet have the same message. It would be so easy to set our sights on what we've lost and we will lose and become negative.  But instead they carry the message of hope and gratitude laced with endurance. There are no longer small things in their lives. They simply do not exist. The important things are no longer taken for granted and the trivial things are no longer important. Not even the onlookers, stares or misinterpretations of our physical symptoms cause us to look at life negatively. 
Maybe they went through periods of being negative. I don't know. I can't say. I think I can say that it's one thing to say good-bye to certain aspects of one's life and then move on, and that it's another to look at life with self-pity. I know because I've been in both places. I had never let go of past resentments and it took Parkinson's for me see things in a positive light. Utlimately it took God completely renewing my own heart.
Whether or not it has anything to do with the holiday season I have noticed an increase of negativity in people within the last month or so. Why so? Have people lost their focus of the importance of Christmas? And not just Christmas, but of everything in their lives. I've heard some complain of how much they hate Christmas shopping. Would they rather see their children's eyes on Christmas morning with no presents under the tree? Would they rather complain of not having the money to do so? I've heard others constantly complain of a good job after talking on their Blackberry making plans for after their shift is over to get together with friends and drink and play video games. I could go on. So many people complain and make trivial problems into big problems. So many people expecting others to make them happy and when it doesn't happen they make it a point to let everyone know for one reason or another. The one's that really get to me are those that complain of trivial physical symptoms they inflict upon themselves and about how bad they have it. I really don't want to hear it, especially when they would rather focus on their tiredness rather than their job performance.
I wonder if those people truly realize they are whining and complaining. Oh you think, "Of course they do if we tell them." Seriously though? With my experience, negative people truly believe that you do not see it as "how things are" and you are "taking things lightly." And so they continue carrying their heavy beliefs. Some people claim to be to busy to be happy, yet they have time to focus on what they see as negatives and have time to be unhappy.
I've noticed one characteristic of negative thinkers is their needs to have others behave according to their wishes. They have never grown up and still live with childish demands. Whenever people and the world fail to act according to their selfish wishes, they are unhappy. Such a poisonous attitude prevents them from growing and learning how to cope with life's challenges. This typically continues from childhood. During childhood instead of combating and defeating the negative attitude, it's nurtured and fed.
Everything negative we say about ourselves to ourselves (self-talk) and to others is a suggestion. We are unwittingly practicing self-hypnosis, programming ourselves for failure, and creating self-fulfilling prophecies. Unknowingly we project this outwardly. How we see ourselves is what we speak. Sadly this is what others will see in spite of the fact that this is not the message we want to portray. This leads me to my next point, a particularly destructive effect of ‘negativitis’ is that it sets one up for the mentality of a victim. Those with a woe-is-me attitude sit around in misery, waiting to be rescued. But they wait in vain because no one can rescue them from their own attitude. They are the only ones who can change it. And until they do so, they are condemned to continue suffering.
If I ever go looking for my hearts desire I won't look any farther than my own back yard... because if it isn't there I never lost to begin with.
Negativity carries its own kind of irony. A "damned if you do, damned if you don't," kind of irony. It is like bug repellent. Spread it around and it will repel the very kind of people and responses you so much want. But then again spread it around and it will attract the very kind of people and responses you so much do not need. As the saying goes, "Misery loves company."
If there were no negative there would be no positive. We couldn't experience the pleasure of the positive if we never felt the pain of the negative. When we focus on the positive, we'll have excellent sources of inspiration and innovation; we'll be able to see opportunities. That's the upshot of focusing on the positive.
When we focus on the negative, we'll prepare ourselves for all positive loopholes in life and we'll be prepared for any contingencies. That's the upshot of focusing on the negative.
It's a continuous cycle; to optimize the potential of each side we need to maintain a balance,
It wasn't until it was too late that the Tinman had realized he had locked up and defended his broken heart underneath his nickel-plate by ignoring his problems with a quick fix.
No, we cannot ignore the negatives in life. It's just that focusing on them alone and ignoring the positives is what's detrimental and damaging. It's not a question of whether the glass is half full or half empty. Maybe the glass is just too big? If it was emptied, there would be nothing left but negatives leaving all the positives out of site. If it was completely filled all the negatives would be ignored leaving life unbalanced and dangerous.
So what about focusing too much on positive thinking? It's too irrational. Take those who claim to have built giant companies and wrote their success and such based on their big positive thinking. Sure some of it was due to it, but they didn't sit there and it appear out of thin air. A variety of external factors play a huge role out of it. Just as well, failure is part also due to external factors. Let's ask ourselves, is positive thinking self-delusional? My opinion...success truly comes from a vision beyond yourself and execution, which is the ability to actually go out and do it rather than just thinking about it. We have a choice between positive and negative thinking, it should always be positive thinking, but it should never be the sole motivation for success.

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A Recycled-Dad with Bipolar & Parkinson's, reflections on fathering and family life and other stuff thrown in'll love my Soap Box Rants

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Why I call myself a Recycled Dad

I call myself a Recycled Dad because of the struggles with remarriage and being a step-parent and weekend dad. This is also about my life living with bipolar and how it affects me personally, my family and my job. It also reflects on the grace God has poured out on me throughout recovery from alcohol and an eating disorder. Recycled Dad is about my reflections on the wisdom God teaches daily on fatherhood and being a better husband in spite of being bipolar.

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