From The Sound of Music....

lessons for clara

Dearest Clara, We're having a bit of a homecoming this week you might say . . . Vienna, Salzburg, the mountains, the lakes: all of our Austrian favorites are on tap as we head off for vacation.  When Americans come to Austria, they can't help but think of the Sound of Music, much to the bafflement of many Austrians.  They just don't get why we like that movie so much, but how can you not? Love stories, hero stories, gorgeus mountains, all set to cheery music? It's the recipe for a winner.

I've been watching this movie at least once a year since the age of five.  I remember when I first saw it, I could barely make it through the first half, and most of the storyline was lost on me.  But so much more comes out of that movie when you get older---not only does Captain Von Trapp become more and more handsome, you start to notice different characters in a new way.  Here is what I've learned over the years from this movie:

  • Some parts of a party are for children, and some parts of the party are for adults: I am always almost as excited as Gretl when she exclaims "My first party!".  The Captain lets them attend and perform, but when the guests are seated at dinner, the children sing their way upstairs, which always struck me as a nice balance for everyone involved.  So please don't be upset if mommy tells you to go to bed halfway through a party.
  • Bow out gracefully: Unlike many people, I think the Baroness von Schraeder gets a bit of a bum rap.  And as I've gotten older, I've actually started to feel for her---after all, she thought everything was going swimmingly until a would-be peasant nun from the hills, half her age waltzs in and turns everything upside down.  I give the Baroness a lot of credit for putting up a battle for the Captain, but more so, for bowing out gracefully when she sees the battle is lost.  She is, even in heartbreak, a pretty decent lady.  And she's got some of the best lines in the movie.
  • Sometimes those closest to you will hurt you the most: We want to love and trust those closest to us, it makes natural sense.  But sometimes those we love and trust turn out to be influenced by something else more than us.  Between Liesl and Rolf, and the Captain and the Butler, we see that it is sometimes those closest to us that can hurt us the most.
  • Your favorite things will be your most comforting things: When the dog bites . . . when the bee stings . . . all things that can make us cry.  But I love how Maria and the children sing of simple things that they love, like brown paper packages tied up strings, and schnitzels, and ponies. Keep a list of those things that make you smile, you can call on those memories when you can't call on me to keep you company when things might be a little saddier or lonelier.
  • If you're afraid of something, you should probably go back and face it: I always loved how Mother Superior calls out Maria for hiding in the convent.  She tells her that if she joins the religious life, it must be for the right reasons.  She makes her face her fears and really explore what she was meant to do, even if it meant a loss to her convent.  I think everyone should be so lucky to have a mentor that really makes us look at what we want and need out of life, and then helps us find the courage to face it.

All my love,