Thursday, August 18, 2011

Defy Gravity

*Post inspired by Mama Kat's writer's workshop prompt, "Write a short story prompted by your favorite song."

Though I have way too many favorite songs, all for different reasons, my all-time favorite is Defying Gravity, from the Broadway musical, Wicked.

Do it: call me a theater geek. I dare you.
Click here to listen to the song.

I've heard it my whole life. I've heard it from everyone.

And now, I've heard it enough.

The same words resounded inside me, thrown from my mind and into my heart at every turn. Every wrong choice, every action that only expressed my individuality. But individuality is wrong, they told me.

I believed them. I had to be like the rest, be perfect. I had to love the boy who pretended to be perfect, too, but on the inside was deteriorating. Being worn to nothing because his mistakes had made him worthless. His mistakes that he vowed to forever hide.

But that boy would marry someday. Not me, since I didn't measure up. Instead he would marry a girl who is naive and perfect, just as they push me to be. 

And that boy will be a man, a man who no longer can hide his mistakes. 

And that girl will be a woman, crushed by the opening of her eyes, by the reality that this man was never in fact perfect like she, and so many others, were lead to believe. The reality that no man ever was. 

And he will become "not good enough."

No righteousness, no straight behavior, no obedience could ever make him that way.

And that woman will sob. She will cry every night, wondering how she was fooled. Wondering if she could find someone better. A better man, with a cleaner past.

But I know she will be wrong. And that their marriage will fail.

So I consider myself lucky. I consider myself saved from such repression. I see it now, see the way they are. See them for what they are: the imperfect people, quite beautiful in their self-acceptance, and the facade of those who think they are perfect.

And no longer do I feel the guilt that destroys so many others. No longer do I let their standards repress me. No longer do I think I'm unworthy and ugly, because of past mistakes, or even things I love.

Because those things make me me. Those things make me the beautiful individual I was always told to avoid. The one everyone shunned. The one I was told would never truly be happy.

And to them I say you're wrong. Away from them I fly, high and far away, where judgmental eyes no longer penetrate and self-righteous words no longer scar.

I am free.

I am me.

Defying Gravity

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I'm through with playing by the rules
Of someone else's game
Too late for second guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes...and leap!

It's time to try
Defying gravity
I think I'll try
Defying gravity
And you can't pull me down!

I'm through accepting limits
'Cause someone says there're so
Some things I cannot change
But 'til I try, I'll never know
Too long I've been afraid of
Losing love I guess I've lost
Well, if that's love
It comes at much too high a cost!

I'd sooner buy
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I'm defying gravity
And you can't pull me down!


So if you care to find me
Look to western sky!
As someone told me lately:
"Everyone deserves the chance to fly!"
And if I'm flying solo
At least I'm flying free
To those who'd ground me
Take a message back from me
Tell them how I am
Defying gravity
I'm flying high
Defying gravity
And soon I'll match them in renown
And nobody in all of Oz
No wizard that there is or was
Is ever gonna bring me down!

I hope you're happy!

(Citizens of Oz)
Look at her, she's wicked!
Get her!

What a powerful message about rising above the people who bring us down--the people who judge us and try to steer us in a certain direction. What a powerful message about being yourself and staying true, no matter what it brands you as!

I've always gotten the chills from the power of this song, but as I watched it for the first time last summer, it brought tears to my eyes. What a moving experience to watch Elphaba literally rise in the air, cape nearly covering the entire stage, and sing those final notes of the song with such a power that even her enemies could no longer pull her down.

It was moving in more ways than just great theatrics. It was moving because of the message it portrayed.

Though the above "story" I wrote comes from a fictional place (mostly), I think we've all experienced some kind of "rising above the pressure." Maybe some more than others. But in one way or another, we can all relate.

In fact, I could have dedicated this post to a certain loved one of mine, because she has experienced this to the fullest. Finally, as a full-grown adult, she came into her own. And she's happy. And I love her for that.

That's why this song is my favorite. Not just because it's beautiful, that Elphaba's story is inspiring, or even that it's fun to sing to, but because of the message. Defy gravity.


Emily said...

What a beautiful post. In high school, I was called "choir fag" and "theater fag" although I was not gay. In college I came into my own and bc of my love of choir, theatre and my talents, got to sing in Rome and at Carnegie Hall. I did 16 plays in my four years of college, a record that I don't know has ever been broken.

Classic NYer said...

What an awesome story. I'm a middle child, so I totally relate.

Stopped in from Mama Kat's. :-)

Heather Lee said...

I love you Jennie...YOU are my hero...I am so proud to be your sister, and I look up to you in so many ways. Thank you for sharing your talents with all of us, even if you know that some people will not appreciate the things you share. I love you, little sister...xoxo


Mel said...

Theater geek! But wait, don't delete me! I am one, too! Love this post - very inspiring!

Jen said...

Rise above...that is a powerful message. Good reminder, as I don't always do that. I've never seen Wicked, but your post makes me want to.

Stasha said...

What a great tale to tell. I am so proud of you Jennie!

Chell said...

Great post! Inspiring!

lori said...

Beautiful post, Jennie, in every way. I've been thinking about how much there is to learn all the way through life. We're never too old to defy gravity. I need to remember this because I sometimes feel like such a late bloomer. But, the truth is it's never too late. Thanks for sharing this with us :)

Kathleen Basi said...

I like how you use the marriage example. I wonder if the whole modern concept of romance feeds this idea that only when a person is perfect are they good enough, worthy to be loved. No wonder marriages struggle so much.

SUPAHMAMA! said...

What an amazingly strong post! Can't wait to see next week's prompt!

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