May 2, 2011

Ego Scissorhands


‘Memba this movie?? It came back to me in a recent sitting meditation…

When Edward Scissorhands first came out, the previews terrified me. It looked like a horror movie! Since I was only 9 when it was released in 1990, the PG-13 rating kept me from seeing it until a few years later I think, when I finally saw the movie at a sleepover (OMG loved sleepovers!) Of course, what I figured was a horror flick turned out to be a funny and kind of tragic love story…with underlying themes of ego, self, creation, manipulation, and sacrifice.

It was those very underlying themes that popped into my head during a random meditative sitting practice last week. (SRSLY, Edward Scissorhands in the middle of meditating? No idea.)

Here’s my quick synopsis: An inventor creates a boy with crazy hands made of scissors. Not your typical safety scissors either, these are some massive clippers. The inventor dies of a heart attack, leaving scissor kid alone to live in his creepy castle. Years later, a local Avon lady visits the castle to…try to sell some makeup…and finds “Edward.” She takes pity and takes him home to live with her family, where he meets and falls in love with the teenage daughter, Kim. A few of the locals hate Edward, namely Kim’s ex-boyfriend and a random religious fanatic, but the rest of the townspeople are fascinated and set on cashing in on his talent for trimming. Everyone wants his hedge designs, and he is pressured into the salon business. Edward gets caught up in his new glory, but when he “fails” to be the perfect “tool,” the townsfolk start to turn on him. Edward’s innocence is abused and he eventually runs back to his castle, accidentally kills Kim’s boyfriend, and when Kim tells the townspeople Edward also died in the “fight” (to protect Edward from the angry mob), he ends up living alone in the castle for the rest of his life, which is, seemingly, eternal, because he was an invention.


This movie draws on a lot of psychological concepts, and could really parallel many emotional and spiritual facets, but the first one that snuck into my supposed-to-have-been meditation mind was scissors-as-ego.

Could Edward’s “hands” represent the tribulations of dealing with ego? Behind Edward’s scissors, he is an innocent, gentle, kind, loving being that was created by his inventor out of the desire to express human love…just as we were created in the image of God for the purpose of love. But there is always something blocking this True Self and this realization of love…ego-scissors. Edward cannot get physically close to experience love with others without inadvertently physically cutting them, so he has to keep people at scissor’s length. To compensate, he uses his ego-scissors to appease other’s egos…making ice sculptures, trimming hedges, cutting hair, and picking locks. Edward is naïve to his own ego (attached to affirmation), his abilities are abused, and he doesn’t come to realize that his un-knowing, his naivety, is tragically his downfall into acceptance of his life behind ego-scissors.

This might sound a little harsh I suppose. I mean, everyone was so mean to Edward! It wasn’t his fault. He (his ego?) just wants to be loved, right? He was born with scissorhands, he can’t help it.

We are all “born” with ego, (in the Christian tradition we call it “original sin.”) and yes, it is tragic and sad that we often don’t recognize it when it takes control of our minds and lives. It doesn’t make us “bad people” but it can coerce us to do wrong things. Edward wasn’t bad, but he unintentionally lived behind his ego and at the unconscious disposal of others, unable to stand up as his True Self sans scissors. Although he could “do” things with his hands, the weakness of his ego as a personal power center led him to be manipulated by other egos. He didn’t know how to be outside of his scissorhands, and the collective ego of the townspeople, of society, made it that much harder for him to make the distinctions.

Our duty here isn’t to kill off or rid ourselves of ego…on the path of karma yoga, the yoga of action, the ego is how we do. The essence of the Yoga practice is whether or not we can make the distinction between doing and being.

Edward found the only way he could be was to be alone. Did he give up, or mindfully move into contemplation by choosing renunciation? I don’t know…again lots of facets to this fairytale and this is just one.

What facet do you find in Edward’s scissorhands? OR What kind of tool would be cool in place of your hands?

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