My Heart Will Be Blessed
When I was five years old my parents showed me the classic film The Sound of Music. It has been one of my favorite films ever since. (My other favorite films are The Social Network and Inglorious Basterds. I know. RANGE. And yes, Basterds is spelled with an E in the movie title.)
I watched a show recently where, on the show, the parents showed their five year old child The Sound of Music and the child then proceeded to have nightmares about Nazis coming out of her closet. The mother, in a highly ironic scene, tried to convince her daughter that "Nazis aren't that bad!" so the little girl would go to sleep.
I, for some reason, loved violence as a child. My favorite movie (before the Sound of Music) was Mulan because of the fantastic battle scene where literally thousands of people died. The entire time I watched the Sound of Music as a five year old I was asking my parents when we were going to get to the war stuff. Then the war stuff came and I was HOOKED. This was great, a story about kids around my age hiding from actual soldiers. Best movie ever.
(By the way, I placed the Nazis from The Sound of Music and the Huns from Mulan into the same category of imaginary armies made up for my five year old need for murder in movies. Turns out that was not the correct category for either army.)
My mother, seeing how much I loved the movie, purchased the VHS (I'M OLD! OH I'M LIKE THE CRYPT KEEPER!)
And pretty soon I had the movie memorized. In fact, I still have most of the movie memorized. It's a movie that has grown up with me and I make a point to watch it every year around Christmas when they put it on TV (and even if I don't catch it on TV I can pull out the VHS. Or, nowadays, stream it. I like nowadays.)
From 6-14 years old I used to have a hard time falling asleep. There were a lot of thoughts in my head that were spinning round and round and, as an oldest, my bedtime was approximately two hours earlier than it needed to be. It also could have been that obsession with violence finally catching up with me. I've always found that the best way to fall asleep is to return to a single comforting thought and let yourself drift into the thought until you are gone. My thought that I used for most of those years was Maria in bed with the children during the thunderstorm singing "My Favorite Things." Usually by the second chorus, I was asleep. I can still replay that scene word for word, shot for shot in my head.
I have a firm belief that every person is like one of the Von Trapp children and that all personality types fit within these seven children. I, for example, am a Brigitta. I knew this the moment I saw the movie. I wanted to relate to Gretl, as she was my age, but I knew I was a Brigitta. Brigitta in the movie is ten, and I thought that once I turned eleven, I might grow out of being a Brigitta. But alas, I am a Brigitta to this day. I have a sister who's a Liesl and one who is also a Brigitta. My best friend is a Marta. Both of my brothers are Fredriks. There is no scientific basis for this, fyi, it all comes straight from my neshama.
As a child I loved what the children had with Maria, a brand new mother who was there just to teach them to enjoy life and fall out of a boat every once in a while.
As I watched this movie as an adult, it began to hit me in different ways. As a teenager I could not get over Captain Von Trapp's dedication to his ideals. He gave up his enormous mansion and all the prestige he had to avoid working with the Nazis, though they were offering him a high position. I hoped that I could have such strong willpower if ever faced with such a choice.
As I began to date my view of the movie changed more dramatically. There was something so beautiful about Maria and the Captain together that it made me weep openly every time I watched the movie.
(If you have ever been a roommate of mine I would like to take this space to formally apologize for watching a three hour movie on our couch and weeping hysterically for the last 2 hours of the movie. You deserved a happier Christmas than the one I gave you by exposing you to my deep emotional issues connected with this film and I hope to one day repay you by allowing you to weep openly in front of me and yell at a screen for two hours. Your choice of film.)
I've been hiking a lot recently. Hiking, like biking, needs just enough of my brainpower that it clears my head so I can really think. While marching through mountains I usually think about the title song of the movie and how Maria sings it in the Alps.
I go to the hills
When my heart is lonely
I know I will hear
What I've heard before
My heart will be blessed
With the sound of music
And I'll sing once more.
Like Maria, my heart has been lonely. I am looking for the sound of music as well.
Maria had her life planned out since she was a child and was exposed to the Nuns of the abbey singing together. She would be part of that family, of that mission, that way of serving G-D. She tries to curb her identity to fit with the rigidity that is required in that environment and cannot hack it. She is sent on an assignment to the Von Trapp family to try to manage the seven chaotic children of the widowed Captain Von Trapp. While there she falls for the Captain and has to decide if she needs a new mission.
Of course, the love that blossoms between the Captain and Maria is Hollywoodified-they both have an exact moment when they knew they loved each other, they have crazy amazing chemistry, the children encourage them to dance together at a ball, all the proper cliches. Putting that aside, there is something beautiful and real about their relationship. Maria does not initially fall for the Captain. She falls for the children and for the mission of wanting to bring them up with love and music. The Captain sees her dedication to that mission and falls for her in turn. When Maria realizes that she is losing her grip on her initial mission, to be a nun and to serve G-D in that way, she returns to the abbey to try to clear the Captain from her mind. While there, in one of the most powerful parts of the movie, the Mother Abbess sings to Maria:
Climb ev'ry mountain
search high and low
follow every by way
every path you go
climb ev'ry mountain
ford every stream
follow every rainbow
till you find your dream
a dream that will need
all the love you can give
every day of your life
for as long as you live
That is the song in its entirety. I cried while typing those lyrics. It is simple but it is everything. It is not the Disney view on dreams that the dream itself is the endgame. A real dream will take all the love Maria can give every day of her life as long as she lives.
That's all I really want. A dream that will need all the love I can give.
Love is an action. Love is giving, Love is sacrifice. Love is realizing the way you need to serve G-D is not in a nunnery but by bringing music to seven children. Love is leaving the mansion and hiking across Switzerland with Gretl on your back because you cannot bend your ideals to have a comfortable life working for Nazis.
Love is not Liesl in the gazebo, teased by a boy who is seventeen going on eighteen who will not give her anything real other than the occasional telegram and who immediately falls for the shiny power of the Third Reich Yemach Shemo.
Another moment in this film that makes me cry is when the Captain is at the concert and he serenades the audience with the ditty to his homeland "Eidelweiss." It's a small song about a flower that looks like snow and reminds him of a home to which he may never return. In the middle, he is struck by grief and cannot go on singing. Maria comes to his side and helps him to finish the song, because together they are on a mission and she can be strong when he falters.
(I cried while typing that as well.)
I have my entire wedding planned out, as you can read about in the post End Game. My plan includes the music to which I will walk down the aisle. My plan is to walk down to Eidelweiss. The way the instruments are arranged is perfect and it works better for walking than "Climb Ev'ry Mountain." It will remind me of my parents' love for me, of that my purpose here is to find my mission and at the end of the day, even if my mission is not what I thought it would look like, the real mission to find a dream that will need all the love I can give.
I want to give. And give and give and give.
As I walk down I hope to be thinking-A dream that will need all the love I can give every day of my life for as long as I live.
And then checking out my husbands face to make sure he's doing the 27 Dresses look back thing.