Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Limitations

I briefly mentioned my disappointment with the musical stage adaptation of Gregory Maguire's book Wicked back in September. (Funny how this week's posts have been referencing previous posts...) What I didn't mention at the time was that the stage production (as seen in London's West End) was also the single best merchandising enterprise EVER. The current online store is still very very good with the selection they offer but the lobby display back in 2007 was truly breathtaking.


Among the offerings, I found this baseball-style tee, a long-sleeved black tee with FLYING MONKEYS up one arm, black filigree wrought-iron jewelery with green Swarovski crystals (the "Elphaba" line), and a "Grimoire" created to document the development of the musical. And that's just some of the stuff I brought home. The music boxes, the witch hat umbrella, the souvenir brooms and stuffed flying monkeys... so much and more that I had to leave behind due to luggage or budgetary limitations. 

The "Defy Gravity" message is perhaps the only element of the novel that carried over to the musical in a recognizable form. Elphaba's need to break away from the established order and re-make the world (no matter how she is perceived by the very people she wants to help) drives the plot and might be the only sympathetic note the stage show struck in me.



Personal limitations, our own and those of others, are interesting things to mull over. I was inspired to write this post by my father's annual Christmas letter which showed up in my inbox yesterday. My father is a smart man in many ways - bordering on brilliant when in the field of his expertise - but has never managed to recognize his own limitations. These include most areas of English language mastery - small talk, puns, Christmas letters - and relationships with women in general. From the time I was seven, I was put in charge of editing/proof-reading the Christmas letter. Twenty-five years later, having been a lone satellite household for almost fifteen years, I divested myself of the duty as (it seemed to me) his compositions were actually getting worse and I realized that my altruism had limitations as well that were affecting my health: My bad grammar ulcer twinged (FACT) every time I opened my emails from him. Furthermore, he now had a whole new troupe of English-as-a-First-Language offspring living under his roof who should be putting in their time as proof-readers. Apparently, this duty was and still is beyond their limitations in my father's estimation as the half-sister I contacted hadn't even read the letter before it was sent out.

With a conscious effort at minimal belly-button gazing, my relationship with my father is a primarily nostalgic one. I am his first born and, by that right, I got him when he was young, energetic, and when the world really was limitless. And Mom and him were ALL MINE for YEARS, something I realized recently is truly immeasurable in value. By the time my brother came along, Dad's vision had begun to shrink down to very specific goals and values. It's a sad irony and truth that the bigger his house got, the more his world narrowed. I miss the father I used to dig up the garden with and who taught me to play soccer and swim. 


I happily give credit for a lot of my strengths and successes to my father's influence and example... and he would readily accept that credit as his due. In absolute truth, I wouldn't be who I am now if I hadn't been my father's daughter first. But his strongest legacy in me was never an intentional lesson - limitations need to be recognized if they are ever to be overcome. Otherwise, they act as herding influences, gradually eroding one's horizons and aspirations into something cold and tight and unsatisfying.