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Emeralds of Oz by Peter Guzzardi

August 9, 2020


“We must fight the tendency to sleepwalk through our lives, and awaken. This is the fundamental aspect of the Hero’s Journey.”


Insight #1: There are no mistakes, only lessons.

There are right answers and wrong answers for every question, and success depends on sorting one from the other.

…there is no right or wrong decision. That’s not a useful distinction to make when it comes to learning or life. Instead, we make choices, and we learn from them.


Insight #2: When it’s important to speak your mind, keep at it.

When social scientists conduct research to identify those qualities that separate top performers from the rest, one stands out: good old-fashioned grit. When harnessed to speaking up, this quality can make all the difference- whether you’re communicating needs to your spouse, contributing ideas to that crucial meeting at work, or advocating for someone who could use a helping hand.


Insight #3: When a child keeps trying to tell you something, stop and listen (no matter how busy you are).


Emerald of Wisdom 1: Listen to your longing.

Yearning arises when the gulf between what you desire and what you possess becomes too great, which makes it all-important to recognize this feeling when it shows up in your life.


Insight #4: When change comes knocking, answer the door.

… an invitation to try something new will follow that surge of longing as surely as day follows night. So, keep an eye out for it, and step up to the occasion when it arises.

When you consistently choose the familiar over the unknown, you’re walling yourself in. You’re turning your back on the great, endless cycle of sacrificing and renewal to cling to the vain hope that your present life can remain just the way it is.


Insight #5: when you feel a song welling up inside you, belt it out.


Insight #6: beware of sticklers for the law especially when it benefits them.

When a law becomes a tool for justifying something you know in your heart is wrong, push back… Zero tolerance is just another way of saying compassion free.


Insight #7: Read the fine print.


Insight #8: Don’t say “Yes” the first time you’re asked for something you don’t want to give up.

Sometimes it’s just not a good idea to be accommodating- at least not right off the bat.


Insight #9: Don’t let virtue keep you from speaking your mind.

Communication between people is easily derailed under the best of conditions, so whenever there’s a lot riding on getting it right – when we’re expressing needs that aren’t being met, or setting boundaries, or just saying no – a straightforward approach is the key.


Insight #10: Stick up for yourself.


Insight #11: Avoid regrets: honor your caregivers.

No one comes to childhood unscathed, as adults, it is up to us to make sense of those wounds, clean them up as best we can, and put them into perspective. It helps to appreciate that whoever raised us was doing the best they could, even when it wasn’t very good.


Insight #12: It’s called good luck for a reason.


Insight #13: Showing up is at least half the battle.

Whether it happens by accident or design showing up is the essential prerequisite for any task worth doing.

When we show up, we’re fully present.  We resist the tug of the hyperactive mind, pulling us in a million different directions. We anchor ourselves in this present moment as it is unfolding, right here right now.


Emerald of Wisdom 2: See the world as if for the first time.

The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt, be open to all possibilities. It is the kind of mind which can see things as they are, which step by step and in a flash, can realize the original nature of everything.

Typically, we tend to go on automatic pilot in our daily lives and no longer really see what’s most familiar: spouses, children, the daily commute to and from work, household chores, the neighborhood we live in. Beginner’s mind is one of the twin pillars of mindfulness, the meditative awareness that cultivates our capacity to see things just as they are from moment to moment. The other pillar is compassion…


Insight #14: Don’t be fooled by appearances – and don’t take anyone else’s word for what they mean.

Don’t take people at face value, even when an authority figure says you should. Instead, reserve judgment until you’ve done some investigating yourself.


Emerald of Wisdom 3: Celebrate yourself – and others – for showing up.

It’s far too easy to lose sight of how wondrous life is. Just being here is cause for joy.

By being present we have an impact on other people.

Recognizing that we change things simply by showing up, whether we want to or not, is the first step in taking full responsibility for our lives.

Once you stop placing an emphasis on flaws (your own or someone else’s), you’re creating space for a new way of seeing the world. Once you let go of the mind’s tendency to criticize and compare, what’s left is an appreciation for the beauty of things as they are.


Insight #15: Calmly and clearly is the best way to set boundaries.

Establishing clear personal boundaries is a basic principle when it comes to creating healthy, supportive, and respectful relationships.


Insight #16: Watch out for houses falling from the sky (especially if you’re being wicked).


Insight #17: It’s always best to start at the beginning.

Short cuts can save time, but when the journey is important it’s best not to skip any steps or make any assumptions. Take it from the very beginning. One foot in front of the other, that’s the best way forward. One moment, one day, at a time.


Insight #18: Beginnings are a gift made possible by endings.

To experience life over the rainbow, Dorothy must leave Kansas behind.


Insight #19: When you’re lost, it’s okay to ask for directions.


Insight #20: Remember your manners.

The purpose of good manners, Mom often reminded us, was first and foremost to make people feel comfortable.

Good manners may seem superficial. However, being polite is an essential element of civility, and civility eases the way for new friendships. It also makes it possible for us to disagree while showing each other respect.


Emerald of Wisdom 4: Choose compassion.

Compassion… The Dalai Lama…describes this quality as altruism colored by empathy, an active force dedicated to freeing others from suffering.


Insight #21: Helping others gives you a boost, too.

In a world where getting receives so much airtime, it turns out that giving is the only way to meet one of our deepest needs: the desire to belong … social psychology shows that when we greet other people with compassion, we also lower our own level of stress, distress, and loneliness. Compassion is both selfless and selfish at the same time; By doing good for others, we do well by ourselves.


Insight #22: As you see the world, so it shall be.

When I establish a conscious belief about how things work, I’m going to look for evidence to support it (just look at those terrible events in the news!), and even behave in ways that reinforce it.


Insight #23: We’re not the best judges of ourselves.


Insight #24: When it comes to assessing ourselves, we may be getting it completely butt-backwards.


Emerald of Wisdom 5: You already possess what you desire most.

Derailed by mistaken beliefs about ourselves, we can lose sight of what’s obvious to any casual observer. We don’t realize that we already possess what matters most to us, and in the process, we lose sight of who we are.

Wisdom. Heart. Courage. The first of these helps us make good choices, learn from our mistakes, and become increasingly aware of what really matters in life. The second helps us sift through a maelstrom of feelings so we can employ them in service of those emotions that matter most – love and compassion. Lastly, courage allows us to act in the face of fear, to feel that fear, and do it anyway.


Insight #25: The best things in life are free.

If you already possess what you desire most, then whatever you truly long for cannot lie beyond your reach.

Fight the impulse to look around in order to see how well you’re doing. You’ve got the power to choose between focusing on what you lack or focusing on what you’ve got.


Insight #26: Keep an eye out for the law of unintended consequences.


Insight #27: You can face anything when you’re arm in arm with friends.


Insight #28: Skipping is always a quick pick me up.


Insight #29: You can’t laugh and be afraid at the same time.


Insight #30: Fear is nothing to be ashamed of.

Once we work up the courage to share what scares us with other people, we can begin to shrink those fears down to a manageable size. We’re both removing the destructive elements of shame… And we’re using fear to create connections with each other, to build a community of people who understand what we’re going through.


Insight #31: Don’t be seduced by pretty poppies.


Insight #32: When you ask for help don’t be shy: shot at the top of your lungs!


Insight #33: When you need to, call in support from a higher power.


Insight #34: If you’re laughing away every day, there’s more going on than meets the eye.

Things are not always what they appear to be. And when they look too good to be true, they probably are.


Insight #35: What makes the muskrat guard his musk? And the Hottentot so hot? Courage!

The impulse to flee danger is natural, even desirable in most cases. When it’s not – when you have a strong enough reason to overcome those fears – this is when courage comes in.  Courage is the quality that makes it possible to feel the fear and do it anyway.  Without that natural manual override, we’d be helpless in the face of terrors real and imagined.


Insight #36: If you’re truly unhappy, have a good cry.


Insight #37: Revisit a neglected virtue: humility.

Humility is the virtue that encourages us to accept how much we don’t know and promotes the importance of listening to others. It makes room for learning, offering a path to wisdom.


Emerald of Wisdom 6: Face what you fear.

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, believes that behind every fear lies a wish.


Insight #38: If you come across a sign that reads Haunted Forest I’d Turned Back if I Were You, now is the time for that courage you’ve heard so much about!


Insight #39: When the sky blackens with winged monkeys, RUN!


Insight #40: A good leader keeps a light hand on the reins of power.


Insight #41: being afraid of fear only makes it worse, so befriend it instead.

Once you’re no longer afraid of it, fear returns to its function as an early warning system. Now it’s a tool to be used when you need it.


Insight #42: Killing with kindness actually works.

When your motives are pure – and what could be purer than compassion? – events have a way of supporting you. In the eightfold path to enlightenment taught by the Buddha, the fourth aspect of the path is Right Conduct. We act in this way, without selfish attachment to our own benefit, by being mindful.


Insight #43: Consider the possibility that inside every Winkie Guard brandishing his wicked spear resides a fearful person waiting for someone courageous enough to set him free.

People want to do the right thing, but they can get tangled up along the way, and even end up acting in service of a witch who takes pleasure in her wickedness. Yet given a chance at a new start, they may well take it, which is one more reason to face your fears. Inside every Winkie Warrior, you might find a person like you, just trapped by circumstances and waiting to be set free.


Insight #44: Even winged monkeys have a back story that makes them less frightening.

Just as it’s harder to hate someone once you know what they’ve lived through, it’s also more difficult to be frightened by them once you know the full story.


Insight #45: Whether or not we keep our promises says a lot about who we are.


Insight #46: Anger has a silver lining.

Dorothy’s anger is a legitimate response to injustice, a form of protection that can be extended to those we love.  It’s righteous anger in the best sense of the term.  It’s not intended to do harm, but to prevent harm from being done.


Emerald of Wisdom 7: Pull back the curtain and see things as they really are.

… We each have to learn how to make our own way. Yes, friends can help, but no one else can decide which path we take.

Skillful con men have a knack for showing us exactly what we want to see, while out of sight behind the curtain lies something altogether different.


Insight #47: Experience + Validation = Confidence.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow famously created a five-tier model of human needs.  Fourth in the hierarchy is Esteem, which includes both the desire to be respected by others and the need to value oneself. The former is more important for children and adolescents…which would include Dorothy’s young companions. This need for validation from other people precedes the achievement of true self-esteem, which explains why that diploma or medal, or heart-shaped watch makes a difference.


Insight #48: Once you forgive, then you can forget.

Forgiving someone else, or yourself, is challenging. It’s far easier to cast blame or play the victim. However, forgiveness is the key to true independence. Once you forgive, you’re no longer giving away your power, no longer denying your role as director of your own biopic.


Insight #49: Love trumps hate – but not without help from brains, heart, and courage.

Use your brains to make good choices, your heart to stir compassion, and courage to confront your fears when the outcome looks most uncertain.


Insight #50: Leaving home is the best way to truly appreciate it.

To truly appreciate what it means to be home, you have to leave it behind and head off for parts unknown. In addition to returning with lots of new experiences, you’ll bring a fresh perspective – and a new appreciation – for what you’re returning to.


Insight #51: Toto means everything.

Spelling dog backward or learning that the Latin word toto means “all” may be all you need to confirm the value of bringing a canine into your life.

…consider that having a dog in your home is one of the best things you can do to keep it safe.  Or the medical research showing that dog owners benefit from reduced blood pressure, a higher likelihood of rising up from the couch and going for a walk, and greater overall well-being.


Insight #52: It’s all about the shoes.


Emerald of Wisdom 8: You’ve got the power, and you’ve had it all along.

The lesson that you have the power to realize your own heart’s desire and you’ve had it all along cannot be taught… You have to learn it for yourself.


Emerald of Wisdom 9: There’s no place like home.

Dorothy has discovered a conduit to the vast realm of the collective unconscious. The home to which she’s referring is less a physical place than it is a feeling, and less a feeling than it is a state of being. In fact, it is the ground state of all being. This is the spiritual infinitude from which each of us rises up briefly in this lifetime, like a wave on the ocean, individual yet wholly connected, before falling back to merge with the endless depths from which we came. Dorothy’s true home (and yours in mine) is the boundless wellspring of creation, the divine force that animates every religion and imbues every aspect of the universe with energy.

Home is where you are right now. You and I are home in this moment… and in this one… and in this one, too. We are home in each breath. We are home in the spacious awareness that lies within us and also extends infinitely far beyond us to include all of existence in its embrace. We are home, because like Dorothy, we never left; We just needed to become aware of this in order to return.


Putting the Emeralds To Work

The Nine Emeralds:

  1. Listen to your longing. What do you yearn for in this situation? Is it possible? Is it helpful? This is the moment to remember your deeper longing for connection – to become aware that you are immersed in an ocean of spiritual energy that contains everyone and everything. Is your lesser longing going to move you toward that goal?
  2. See the world as if it were for the first time. What preconceptions can you set aside as you consider the issue you may be facing? How can you view it with fresh eyes, as if for the first time? Pausing at this way station, remind yourself just how special each experience is in a lifetime that’s racing by with stunning speed, and sit quietly in this moment right now.
  3. Celebrate yourself – and others – for showing up. The world you’re looking out on is miraculous, and it’s a reflection of you. Remember to celebrate yourself for your willingness to participate. It’s wonderful that you’ve chosen to show up!
  4. Choose compassion. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Assume that they have the same basic needs and desires you do, and a question naturally arises: How can I help? Now that you opened the floodgates of compassion, direct it to yourself as well.
  5. You already possess what you desire most. If you didn’t already have it, you wouldn’t know to long for it. Anything else that you’re chasing is just an illusion. Whatever qualities you admire most in other people are already central to who you are.
  6. Face what you fear. It’s the only way to make it smaller. If it turns out to be nothing but shadows, move on. If the threat is real, greet it with compassion. It may prove surprisingly easy to melt.
  7. Pull back the curtain to see things as they really are. When you were a child, you relied on your parents to chart your course. But by the time you’re old enough to read these words, the terms of that arrangement are already changing. You’re stepping into the leadership role in your life, and that’s as it should be. No worries, you’ve got this. If you have any lingering doubts, the next Emerald will dispel them.
  8. You’ve got the power, and you’ve had it all along. As long as you don’t give it away before you realize how valuable it is (hang on to those Ruby slippers!), you can settle into your birthright as the conductor of the orchestra of your life.
  9. There’s no place like home. The place where you hang your hat is special, if only because you are there. Then there’s the other home, too, the one inside you. This in turn opens up into the home we all share, the spiritual source of all things, from which we arise to experience this lifetime, and to which we will all return.