The Iaido Journal  Oct 2003
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Tin Man

 --by A J Garcia
The other day there was a Tin Man in the garden:
a child's toy, silver plastic, about eighteen inches long,
carelessly tossed underneath the second storey stairs
amongst the undergrowth of umbrella-leafed ficus and ferns,
hidden from the path by a thick green hedge.

The ferns were trampled a bit,
as if some children had found a hidden refuge there,
a fort of nature's devising to play in.

The Tin Man was on his back, stiff, staring up at the sky.
I couldn't remember what it was he needed from the Wizard.
I think the Lion needed Courage, the Scarecrow perhaps a Brain...
Was it a Heart?
I'm still not sure.
I saw the movie first on TV, as an adult; details escape me.
Only the tornado remains vivid,
when everything stable was blown away
and black and white turned to technicolor in a different locale,
in a land of illusion and allegory.

I don't believe anything happens accidentally in life.
A falling leaf, under the right circumstances,
can teach us as much as a book
if we are open to see the meaning.
So I mused on this odd castaway in the garden
as I passed him going to and from class,
weapons in hand, dogi bag bumping as I walked.
What was his presence meant to teach?

In the movie, the Tin Man was rusty at first,
but he was made of metal,
not easily destroyed from without.
Even made of plastic, he would survive the elements.
In a way, that's our goal as Budoka:
to survive by being smooth, inpenetrable...
and plastic (mouldable) as required.
In ourselves, we fight the heroic battles of good vs. evil;
make the long and often slow journey toward our goals,
sometimes finding they are not what we thought they were;
and confront and destroy the self-delusion that
we are powerless to change ourselves.
We learn that home (our center, our stability) is inside us,
not somewhere far away, subject to external caprice.
In the end, we find we had courage and brains all along,
and hopefully, we also find we have a heart.

The Tin Man is gone from the garden now.
His lesson learned, the teacher moves on.


TIN Oct 2003