I remember watching Mary Poppins as a young child in the 70's in Singapore with my sister, Pearl.
The story of a magic nanny coming to work a cold banker's unhappy family resonated in my heart back then. I remember singing "Let's Go Fly a Kite"as I skipped along the Chinatown maze of streets crowded with shops and street vendors with a delicate Asian paper kite in hand.
The amazing feature of Mary Poppins was her ability to understand. Not only did she know that the Banks were looking for a new nanny, Mary truly understood the language of the wind, the stars and best of all, what makes children tick.
In the movie, Mary Poppins had to negotiate whether to stay with the unruly and unrespectful Banks children or to fly with the west wind. 30 years later, when I heard that the renowned Broadway musical had come to town, I had to decide whether to enjoy the Independence Day parade or to take my Mom who was visiting to watch Mary Poppins light up the Kennedy Center theater sky.
Yes the show was simply spectacular. The music, the dance, the singing in many challenging positions...the ballet, the dancing statues, the amazing magic bag prop.
And the most innovating aspect of Mary Poppins was not that she could fly, that she could sense the shifting of the wind or was able to magically clean up a wrecked kitchen with a spoonful of sugar. Instead the most innovating aspect of Mary was her ability to bring Banks children happily under control and to turn George into a loving husband, caring father and conscientious banker.
Both in the movie and the play, Mary Poppins clearly demonstrated to all of us that no job was too hard, too difficult or too unpleasant to complete.
But the underlying message to me was the need to manage and maintain a steady life/work balance that includes family time, recreation, spiritual health, physical health and inner peace and happiness.