Reading in a distinctive SIRI voice: “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, you say, as she flies away with her fancy umbrella. Mary Poppins was released more than half a century ago, and is still, arguable (I certainly would argue), the best Family Disney movie ever released. So what makes Mary Poppins so timeless? Is it just the tunes that get stuck in your head for the whole day if you happen to hear them once (“A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, the medicine go down, the medicine go down”, there you go), or is it the jokes that are so bad that they are… actually good (I know a man with a wooden leg named smith), or is it simply the charm of watching Julie Andrews be flawless on screen, as always?
While all those are pretty damn good reasons to have a re-run of the classic at every family holiday, the real reason why Mary Poppins will always be an icon for us, who grew up watching it all the time, is because of the little life lessons that it drops along with the fun and humor. Equally relevant today, as they were when it first came out, here are a few things you too could take away from the movie long after the credits have rolled –
- Know Yourself
The first thing that Poppins does when she meets the children is measure their traits. The interesting part is, she doesn’t do anything all through the movie to change those. It only goes to say that it is always a good idea who you are, because when you know who you are is only when you will be able to truly embrace it for the better, even if you are not “practically perfect” like Mary herself. You could be a little stubborn like Michael, or prone to giggles like Jane, but that is okay, as long as you know.
- Find fun in everything you do
Tidying up your super messy room, or tediously sweeping the chimneys in mid-nineties England, any task can become interesting only of you are willing to see the fun in it. With Mary Poppins, a simple walk to the park can turn into an adventure that may or may not involve jumping into pictures to visit carnivals. A spoonful of sugar, she says, helps the medicine go down, the medicine go down, the medicine go down (there goes the song again) . So remember to find fun in whatever you do, just like the songbird finds a way to sing while it works tirelessly to build its nest.
- Laughter is the best medicine
Just like you must find fun in your tasks, similarly it never hurts to find something to laugh about in the worst of situations. A little laughter goes a long way in helping you deal with bad experiences, and before you know, it might just el(ev)ate you! Literally.
“Hello mam, I seem to have run over your cat with my car. I am very sorry for your loss. I am willing, of course, to replace your cat.”
“But are you any good at catching mice?”
- People leave, and it’s okay
One of the more solemn messages that the movie gives you is the fact that people leave. Mary Poppins, right from the beginning tells the children, and us, that she will leave when the wind blows another way. And finally, after she has helped the kids to get close to their father, as promised, she flies away with the wind. Often people come into our lives with a purpose and after it is fulfilled, they leave. And you must learn to be okay with it, because you can always look back at them fondly and silently thank them for everything that they did for you. Remember, growing apart is an essential part of growing up.
- Be generous while you can
Remember little Michael Banks struggling to get his precious tuppence back so he can give it to the lady who feeds the birds, (while simultaneously creating mayhem in the bank). As it turns out, that scene was not only an attack on the selfish banking system and the way it tricks you into investing your money into schemes you don’t even understand (more on that some other time), but it was also a lesson in how you should be generous while you can. Way later when Mr Banks finally realizes that he should’ve given the tuppence to the lady and goes looking for her, it is already too late and she is gone. So maybe it’s time you too look around your surroundings and help those you can, while you can.
- A father can always use a little help
The banks children feel like their father has no affection for them. It is only after Bert explains to them how everything their father does is eventually for them is when they realize how hard he grovels each day in a system that is no less than a jail, just so he can support his family. More often than not, we too are quick to dismiss our loved ones without considering that they might be working day in and out just for us. Cut your family some slack and go tell them you love them and appreciate everything that they do for you, will you?
- Have your own definition of beauty
Whether it is in red lipstick and a startling dress, or covered in soot right out of the chimney, Mary Poppins is always flawless. She doesn’t go by your standards of beauty, you realize, when you see her powder her nose more black when she comes out of the chimney. It is time, we too realize that there are no set ideals and standards of beauty that you must follow. If anything, you should do all you can to break stereotypes of being beautiful and define it in ways you feel good about yourself. Time to dig out the flaming yellow leggings you always wanted to wear but couldn’t because someone else told you they don’t look nice!
- You don’t owe anyone an explanation
While we are at the subject of being confident, there is something else you can learn from Mary Poppins’ fierce attitude – the fact that you really don’t owe an explanation to anyone for the choices that you make in life. Instead, it is often better to not explain yourself to people, it misleads them into believing that they are entitled to know everything you do. Just like Mary Poppins cares for the children in ways she deems are good for them, and when Mr. Banks questions her she throws in the iconic “First of all I would like to make one thing quite clear, I never explain anything.” You go girl!
- Don’t look down upon anyone
It is only when the children and Mary Poppins are among Bert and the chimney sweepers, that they can see the sun set and view that only “the birds, the stars and the chimney sweeps” can see. If all of us, as people, were good enough to not look down upon people for what they do or are, and instead looked at the world from their perspective an place, maybe we too would find views that would take our breaths away!
- Don’t forget to be sassy!
And finally, whatever you do in life, whoever you are, and where ever you go, don’t forget to throw that sass around!
So whether it is to learn how to shut up sexist men asking for explanations and the suffragette movement, or to realize how children grow up way too fast, or simply to sing along to the tune of A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, the medicine go down, the medicine go down, any day is a good day to gather around with friends and family and watch Julie Andrews fly down with an umbrella!
Also, there’s a reason she came back: