Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

This morning, I said something that wasn’t right. I was wrong. It reminded me of this scene:

The Wizard (covering up with the curtain): The Great Oz has spoken. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain….the…Great…er…Oz has spoken.
Dorothy (pulling aside the curtain and reprimanding): Who are you?
The Wizard: (stuttering) I, I, I am the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz.
Dorothy: You are! I don’t believe you.
The Wizard: I’m afraid it’s true. There’s no other Wizard except me.
Scarecrow: You humbug.
Tin Man: Yeah.
The Wizard: Yes. That’s exactly so. I’m a humbug.

The Wizard was a fake. Eventually he was forced to admit how he had faked his way to the top.

When I say something that comes out wrong, I often borrow that line, Pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain… I use it with friends when I catch myself straying from the truth. I also say it to me when I catch myself in self-deceit. It’s a very handy line. I’m no Wizard but I faked my way up for over half a century before I realized the Wizard and I had so much in common.

The Wizard had all the accoutrements of success: power, position, prestige… The Great Oz spoke and people believed him. There are so many parallels between the Great Oz and my former persona. How I presented myself barely projected any resemblance of who I really was.

My love of the stage started early.  I had the leads in all the class plays, I volunteered to present to the class at every opportunity. I hated science but won the Science fair because of my delivery skills in junior high. Obviously, it was easy to be center stage and command the attention of an audience. Being self-employed as a trainer for 25 years was the natural result of honing those skills. But it was more, wasn’t it?

My life was always looking better from the outside than it felt on the inside. I used to think, My life would make a better movie than it does a life.  It seemed exciting and I was great at playing roles, accomplishing my goals, keeping up the front and shooting smoke and fire…

There was no Dorothy to come along and pull the curtain on me. I got the job. Sometimes, with God’s help, we have to be our own curtain puller.

The truth, I discovered, was akin to the Scarecrow’s observation: I was a humbug (fake). I had no clue who I was by the time I quit drinking. It would be easy to blame the booze, but that’s just not accurate. The deception started much earlier. That’s why I’ve changed my subtitle. I think this is key.

Of those whom I deceived, I was the first in line.

Remember the spooky scene in the great hall where Dorothy is finally granted an audience with the Wizard?

Come forward!” The Wizard booms. “I am Oz, the Great and Powerful. Who are you?

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PS: Have you thought about it lately? How can we know?