During my weekend of rest I had a hankering to watch a movie. Since I recently canceled my Netflix account over a clash between my values and theirs, I looked elsewhere for inspiration. Perusing the titles in my own film collection, I came upon an old VHS of The Sound of Music and popped it in. Within minutes I realized that Julie Andrews’ character was a fabulous example of being fully alive!
I had seen The Sound of Music many times, but never from this perspective. It was released a year after I was born, so I had truly grown up with it. Yet, in all the times I had watched it I never saw then what I saw now.
I always knew that Julie Andrews’ character, Maria, defied convention. What I didn’t realize, though, is that the film isn’t so much about outsmarting the Third Reich as it is about living an unrestrained life. Even further, it is about discovering greater joy and purpose by living the life you were born to live.
Perhaps this is precisely why The Sound of Music was hugely popular throughout much of the world for many years. The film is timeless because the message is timeless. Through Maria, we learn that it is only by letting go of trying to be something we were never meant to be, that we can hope to blossom into a powerful force of love.
It was clear that trying to be a nun was not bringing Maria fully alive, even though this wasn’t initially apparent to Maria. In the end, she learned that the truest worship isn’t about forcing ourselves to conform. It is about living in the freedom of who we were created to be.
The concluding scenes of the film show a Maria who has truly come into her own. No longer conflicted, she is free indeed. Yet, she is more than free. She is in many ways the savior of the entire Von Trapp family.
As the credits rolled I thought about my own life. In particular, I was struck by two opportunities I was considering pursuing. Although I had initially been excited by them, I had to admit they were not bringing me alive. I also had to admit that the excitement I thought I felt wasn’t excitement at all. It was insecurity.
Once I realized I was being tempted by the security of a paycheck, and not by the joy of building my dream, I knew the opportunities were not for me. I have played it safe and restrained long enough. Now I want to join in Maria’s grand adventure and sing out with confidence, “What will this day be? I wonder! What will my future be? I wonder!”
We were all meant to live lives of curiosity and wonder. Our spirits long for grander things than living out our days in sequestered solemnity. I don’t know what my future holds, but I want to be like Maria more and more. Therefore, I have created a new litmus test in honor of her compelling example.
Regarding anything and everything in my life, I am going to ask the following questions:
Is this person, place or thing making me want to belt out in song and twirl around on top of a mountain with my arms outstretched in joyful exuberance? Does it fit who I am and what I was born to do in this life? Will it get me closer to achieving my dreams?
The hills are alive with the sound of music and I want to be fully alive, too, in everything I do! Don’t you?