I’ve been thinking about the Island of Misfit Toys. You know the 1964 movie, “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer”? If you don’t, go google it before reading any more here, or, depending on the time of year, make sure you record it on a broadcast channel, or hulu it or whatever your preference. Just. Watch it.
Sometimes I wish I lived there. I’d find my peeps – all the other misfits – and we’d all live happily there. But then, we’d all be misfits together, so would that mean we were no longer misfits? Would we, the aforementioned misfits, then reject the normal because they were, you know, normal? And being normal was being a misfit? Might we instead welcome them in among us, reveling in our mutual misfittedness?
If you think about the toys on the island (and yes, I do. Think about them.), their differences were really only surface deep – a train with square wheels, an bird that couldn’t fly, a cowboy riding an ostrich, and of course, a Charlie in the Box (not Jack). That is all surface stuff. What they really wanted was to be loved. They wanted to be wanted. They, and we, all want the same thing.
What’s interesting is that Rudolph, Hermie and Cornelius get kicked off the island. Why? Maybe because they weren’t misfitty enough? Or is it because they have a purpose? Rudolph won’t really know his until everyone forgets their flashlights on a stormy christmas eve and he’s the only who can light the way. I’m not sure what’s up with Cornelius. He knows his purpose and has from the start – seek and confront the Abominable. I think he’s just along to see the toys.
Hermie, who was the first gay TV actor I ever watched, knows for sure his purpose, though no one really likes his purpose – he’s a dentist. A dentist! Imagine the number of children who were disappointed to see that, when they met their real dentist, it wasn’t Hermie. I’m still scarred by that one. But I digress.
So the king of the IOMT kicks Rudolph, Hermie and Cornelius off the island because he knows they have purpose. He tells them they are living beings and can’t stay there. What I think he was really telling them is that they need to not hide from their purpose, that it takes work to find it, but not to give up. He knows they have important things to do for others and that time is wasted just waiting for something to happen. He is, by far, the wisest flying, talking, crown-wearing lion the earth has ever known.
He tells them they can stay the night but that they must go in the morning. Sure, they can come back for a visit, but first they gotta do what they gotta do. Oh, and tell Santa to stop on his way and pick up some of these toys. Apparently, even Santa needs to be reminded that everyone, even the misfit toys, has a purpose.
I hadn’t planned to talk about purpose-seeking, I was just going to talk about IOMT, my favorite part of RTRNR. But it does seem to come down to this – we all have purpose, we just need to find it. Sometimes, we all feel like misfits even when we know our purpose. Or maybe because we know. There’s an island out there for every misfit and you are welcome to visit but you can’t stay. After all, the world needs more reindeer with shiny noses and cute, gay dentists. After all, the world needs you.
Image credit: By Rankin Bass (Screenshot of the film) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons