My sister and I watched westerns on TV as kids growing up in the 1950’s. They were on every Saturday and we sat waiting for them to begin, ready for another episode of our favorite shows.
As I grew older, my TV watching evolved, growing a bit more edgy with the introduction of martial arts movies. They were all entirely predictable, but I loved watching the fantastic moves of the heroes and villains.
I’m providing this background so that you can see how unusual it is that one of my all-time favorite movies falls way outside of these interests. It is Music Man, written by Meredith Wilson. It’s a musical about a traveling salesman, Professor Harold Hill played by Robert Preston. He spends the majority of the movie conning the parents of River City, Iowa into buying musical instruments for their children. He promises to turn the kids into a marching band, but has no real intent to stay once the parents have paid him. That is until he meets the town librarian, Marion Paroo, played by Shirley Jones. She spurns all of his early attempts to strike up a meaningful relationship, but eventually gives in.
My parents bought the soundtrack to the movie and I spent hours memorizing all of the parts. I could have even done a one-man show.
One of my favorite songs was Professor Hill’s attack on the town’s pool hall. His song was intended to whip the townspeople into a frenzy, so they would want their children in his band, and, of course, buy his instruments.
He told them they had trouble in River City, trouble with a capital T, that rhymed with P, which stood for ‘pool. He told them their children would fritter away all their time and convinced them the pool hall represented all sorts of evil and frightening things. They fell for it and lined up to buy their child an instrument of their own, to keep them out of trouble.
When the time came for him to leave with all of their money, he couldn’t do it. He’d fallen for Marion, the Librarian. And, as unlikely as it seemed, the instruments showed up, along with uniforms. The band assembled and marched down the main street in town, playing a tune for all they were worth.
Whenever I think about a trouble I am experiencing, this movie comes to mind and I wonder, what will happen next and whether everything will be resolved in the end?
I have to coach myself to step back and take a look from a distance and see if I can view the trouble from a different perspective.
I’ve found that it is helpful to become aware of what is happening inside of me.
If I have a ‘need’ that is driving me, I know I’m in trouble. If I’m focused on only one acceptable outcome, I know this spells trouble for me. If I’m anger or sadness takes over, blinding me to the bigger picture, yes, I’m in trouble.
Trouble, like so many other clever things knows how to follow you wherever you go, like a lost puppy searching for a new home. Trouble seems to figure out your weak spot and sit there, waiting for you.
What I end up doing, once I realize trouble has knocked on my door, is to ask for its message. What is it waiting to tell me? Why is it present?
As I open my heart, my eyes and my mind, hints arrive. I begin to see the ‘need’ that lurks behind the scenes. And, I sense there are other more valuable outcomes than the single one that first appeared to me. And, when I release any anger or sadness, my vision clears, opening a vista of opportunities.
I feel like Professor Harold Hill, marching at the head of the band, knowing all will be well in River City.
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