I encourage you to sit down with your family this holiday season and watch The Sound Of Music together. My family did this over two nights with lots of buttered popcorn, hot chocolate, and candy canes. It was a joyous family activity, and though I’d seen this musical many times, I never realized its most important lesson.
Based on the true story of Maria von Trapp and the Trapp Family Singers, The Sound of Music is much more than a fabulous Rogers & Hammerstein musical and heartwarming story.
It’s a story of finding your place in the world and how a Manic Impressive saved her family by outwitting Nazis. And not those goofy, klutzy Nazis from Hogan’s Heros – real, scary, killer Nazis.
Maria Was A Manic Impressive.
Maria was a misunderstood soul at the Abbey where she was training to be a nun. Though her colleagues all express their love for her, they throw her under Mother Superior’s bus, singing, “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?” They harmonize that she’s a “flibberty-gibbit, a will-o’-the wisp, a clown”, and should be tossed from the Abbey for being different.
Maybe the cranky old nuns have a point. Maybe Maria doesn’t fit in. Let’s look at the facts.
1) She was always late for everything, except for every meal. (Classic Manic).
2) Her colleagues didn’t know what to do with her and were uncomfortable with her unconventional ways. They sing, “When I’m with her I’m confused. Out of focus and bemused.” (Yes, we Manics have that effect on conventional types).
3) She was unpredictable. The singing nuns get a bit nasty and complain that she’s “as flighty as a feather,” and “a demon!” (I’d just say she was spontaneous and leave it at that).
On the other hand, she had strong admirable Impressive qualities.
- Maria was full of infectious creative energy and enthusiasm.
- She was an engaging performer that thrived in the spotlight.
- She could improvise like a pro. Even under pressure. From Nazis.
All very clear, Manic Impressive traits. Here comes the lesson.
How Do You Hold A Moonbeam In Your Hand?
The nuns close out their scathing opus with the musical questions, “How do you keep a wave upon the sand?” and “How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?”
Well, you don’t. Moonbeams and waves aren’t for holding in your damn, wrinkly nun hands. You can’t squeeze and control them like rosary beads. Moonbeams and waves are beautiful, powerful, majestic forces of nature.
They exist to inspire you to love and greatness.
The Most Important Lesson
As the story reaches its climax, the Nazis roll into Austria and demand that Captain von Trapp accept a commission in the German Navy. The von Trapps decide to skip the singing festival they’re booked to perform at and slip away under cover of darkness,
But the local Nazis are waiting for them. And just as it looks like the whole family is going to get thrown in the clink, Maria steps up with nerves of steel and improvises. She seamlessly follows her husband’s lead and bamboozles the Nazis with some crafty storytelling, agreeing that the Captain will join the Nazis as soon as the performance is over.
Then as they are on stage performing their final number, “So Long, Farewell”, they pull a fast one. They slip away, two at a time, and while the audience and Nazis in attendance wait for the judges to announce the winner of the festival, the von Trapps race away to hide in the Abbey where Maria couldn’t fit in as a nun.
Let’s face it. If Maria is not Manic Impressive, she crumbles under pressure and gets her husband arrested by Nazis. This joyous musical becomes a tragedy and the von Trapps don’t headline at the Salzburg Music Festival. They headline in a prison camp.
But Manic Impressive Maria steps up, performs in the spotlight, outwits those damn Nazis, and saves her family. The real lesson here is that the very traits that get you kicked out of the Abbey, help you save the day in the outside world.
Be A Moonbeam Like Maria
So do yourself and your family a favor this holiday season. Rent this movie, sit down together with your hot chocolate and buttered popcorn, and remind yourself that it’s not too late to find your place in the world.
The Manic Impressive tendencies that can cause you to be out of step with your current co-workers, can be invaluable, lifesaving skills in the right situation.
Your job in life is to find that situation. Then climb every mountain, ford every stream, and follow every rainbow, ’til you find your dream.