Greetings from Washington, D.C. where this morning a 22-degree icy chill soured the mood of those who live and work here. It’s been a tumultuous year, and, BREAKING NEWS breaks so much — like hourly — that we hardly notice.
I’m a grown man with a soon-to-be adult daughter and I must confess: I cannot wait for the arrival of Mary Poppins Returns in theaters later this month.
I believe we the grumpy, cynical, nightmare afflicted, dyspeptic, and borderline choleric have lost our way. Actually, we lost touch with our beautiful childhood dreams.
We need Mary Poppins to help us get back to our happy place.
I am struck by the parallels between 1964, when the original Mary Poppins premiered, and 2018 as the re-boot, Mary Poppins Returns, is about to “go wide.” In 1964, Americans, collectively shattered by the murder of President Kennedy, yearned for peace, calm, and happiness. The Beatles’ arrival on our shores in February, 1964 helped to fill much of the vacuum; the release of Mary Poppins in August, 1964 did the rest.
Mary Poppins was my first movie theater experience. My mom drove three-year-old me to the Whalley Theater in New Haven, Connecticut to see it; I remember how my senses aroused from unfamiliar but wonderful experiences: the aroma and taste of fresh-buttered popcorn and the darkened theatre that came alive in brilliant Disney color.
In the sequel, Mary Poppins returns to Depression-era London to help her now-grown charges, Jane and Michael, “rediscover the joy they knew as children.”
Frankly, I cannot wait. And I am sure that I will be quite emotional — in tears perhaps — to see Mary Poppins. Although, I must confess that Julie Andrews melted my heart and Emily Blunt has big shoes to fill.
So why do WE need Mary Poppins? It is because, like Jane and Michael, we have lost touch with our childhood happiness and beautiful dreams. On our way to adulthood, our technicolor childhood memories dissolved into drab reality. As responsible adults, we now worry so much about covering our basic living expenses, paying for our children’s college tuition, and dodging emergencies like long-term illnesses and busted furnaces. We wonder whether or not we will have sufficient financial resources to retire from the work that we have to do to try a second-act job doing meaningful work that we want to do. Meantime, 70 percent of the workforce is disengaged: the work we do for a paycheck can be boring, management directives are often dreadfully vague and evolving, there is too much toxicity in our workplace relationships, and, there’s a sinking feeling in our tummies that a downsizing will knock us out, soon.
Mary Poppins cannot fix the workforce or the workplace, but her return to the silver screen can inspire us to rediscover our lovely childhood dreams. And with that, we may begin to pivot successfully to work that is meaningful — work that is profound, protects the planet, helps people, and is fun to do.
As scary as the world and the workplace happen to be, let us recognize that from deep crisis comes great opportunity. I thank my mom for giving three-year-old me the wonderful experience of Mary Poppins. And I expect that older me will be most happy to see Mary, again.
From Disney’s trailer:
As our podcast season concludes on December 14, 2018, we will soon begin work on the next season of The Tightrope with Dan Smolen podcast. Here’s wishing all of our listeners well on their “jolly holiday.” See you in 2019!
And remember this: our best days lie ahead. (Mary Poppins says so!)
DAN SMOLEN is executive producer and host of the podcast, The Tightrope with Dan Smolen. Listen and subscribe to us by keywording “The Tightrope with Dan Smolen” on Apple Podcasts. Also, please rate us and offer suggestions for future guests and topics.
Photo and movie trailer credit: 2018, Mary Poppins Returns, Walt Disney Company.