Sep 152004

There are many people I admire, particularly those who have become self-realised. But there are two people who are head and shoulders above the rest. The first runner-up is………..Captain Katherine Janeway of the starship Voyager, part of the Star Trek sci-fi television series. I believe she is an excellent role model for leadership. I admire and respect her very much.

And the person I admire the most in the whole wide universe is……drum roll please………..Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins might be a fictional character but to me she is very real. Actually, all characters are alive in different realities though they may not appear visible to human sight. There was a time when I lacked discipline in my thoughts; I was constantly popping in and out of realities – books, thoughts, the past, “spiritual” realms – it made no difference; and I would experience them as very real, as if I was living them now. I have now learned to control my thoughts and only do mind-travel at will. When I am in a mind-travel frame of mind, a visit to the local library is like going on an adventure. I can jump, in thought, from reality to reality – story to story – and the characters are very much alive; in truth, all characters exist in Mind. When I dabbled in writing fiction, I used to find that the characters I created were so real they wanted to do their own thing. Ask any writer, or try to write fiction, and you will discover what I’m talking about.

Back to my heroine, Mary Poppins, the eponymous heroine of the movie, starring Julie Andrews. The story is set around a British Edwardian family. The father, George Banks, is too busy being a banker; while his wife, Winifred Banks, is engrossed in the suffragette movement. Their two unruly children, Jane and Michael, who have gone through several nannies, are desperate to have a nanny who will love them and play games with them. Their wish is fulfilled in the form of Mary Poppins, who is “practically perfect in every way.”

The first thing you learn about the world of Mary Poppins is that all things are possible. When she first arrives at the house and is unpacking her bag, she pulls out a mirror, a hat stand and a lamp shade. The kids are amazed because, as far as they can see, her bag is completely empty. Mary Poppins tells them that things are never how they appear. Mary Poppins is a Master at making the invisible realm come to life.

While Mary Poppins is very much aware of the kid’s foibles she knows that her role as nanny is to bring out the best in the children. Mary Poppins is the ideal nanny, very much open to have fun which she does by exploring different realities with the kids; on the other hand she is also very firm with them.

On Mary’s first day out with the children, she sees her old friend, the cheeky Cockney chappy called Bert, who is a chimney sweep and artist. Bert asks Mary if they can go on one of her magical journeys through one of his paintings. (In new-age jargon, this is called “astral projection.”) Mary asks Bert if he remembers how to do it. Bert goes about describing it in a convoluted manner. Mary remarks that things are usually so simple yet people make them so complicated. Mary snaps her fingers and they are off into a world where penguins wait on tables and serve tea; animals that can talk, and a particular fox with an Irish accent who is rescued just in time before he’s devoured by some dogs; a carousel that comes to life; and they enter a horse race which Mary Poppins wins. Simplicity is the key to enjoying the world of magic.

It soon becomes very obvious that the children’s behaviour has changed, which gives their father cause for concern. George expresses his disapproval to Mary Poppins. George believes Mary is leading his children astray teaching them songs and taking them on magical journeys when they should be focusing on discipline and the ways of the world. Mary Poppins realises that sometimes people can be so intransigent. As she puts it: “sometimes people you love can’t see beyond their noses.” Mary has a rule that she never defends her position, nor does she force her way on anyone. Mary realises that the only way for George to find out whether his way of child-rearing works is from experience. She responds that she will get the children ready to accompany him to work the next day.

George Bank is on his way to work with his two children in tow. They come across a bird woman, outside St Paul’s Cathedral, who calls out to passers-by to give her money to help feed the birds. The kids remember Mary Poppins talking about this woman. When they arrive at the bank, George introduces his children to the board of directors. Michael has tuppence (two pence) which his father wants him to save but Michael prefers to give his tuppence to the bird woman to feed the birds. The board members have other ideas and try to get the money off the little boy but he refuses. Other customers hear the kerfuffle and demand their money back from the cashiers. There is absolute pandemonium in the bank. George Banks is fired from the bank.

It is remarkable to witness the change that Mary Poppins’ presence has on the household. Before Mary Poppins came to the house, the maids were constantly bickering. Now the maids are much nicer and tolerant of each other. George Banks, who was so focused on work, is a changed man. He realises that there is more to life than work. You have to enjoy life and appreciate what you have. The final scene sees him taking his family out to fly a kite and singing and skipping along with them. While they are flying kites, George encounters his ex-work colleagues who are also enjoying flying kites. They tell him their father died laughing because of a joke George told their father. They offer George a place as member of the bank’s board of directors. And the joke?

“I once knew a man with a wooden leg named Smith.
What was the name of his other leg?” :-)

What can I say about Mary Poppins’ personality? Wherever Mary Poppins goes there is love and fun and laughter. Everyone loves Mary Poppins. Mary is also extremely talented. She sure knows how to belt out a tune. Every occasion calls for a song and they are such catchy numbers. Mary is also a fabulous dancer; her pirouette will make your head spin.

Another thing about Mary Poppins is that she is very practical. She realises that in this world there are practical things to do like cleaning or whatever needs to be done. But work doesn’t have to be boring. When tidying the children’s room Mary Poppins uses her magical powers, which makes the task so much easier and a lot of fun. When the children have to take their medicine and they refuse because of the taste, she assists with a song. The taste of the medicine is transformed to suit each child’s favourite taste. Mary’s view is that while there is time to play and have fun, you have to be grounded in all you do.

When it’s time to leave the children, although she feels a bit sad, Mary Poppins realises that she cannot afford to get attached to people. Her role is to bring harmony into people’s lives; and when the work is done, it’s time to move on. Love is impartial. This is why Mary Poppins is “practically perfect in every way.”

For me, Mary Poppins is the epitome of love in action. Wherever there is joy and love being applied in a practical way, you will find the Spirit of Mary Poppins.

I love Mary Poppins.

As Mary Poppins would say, may your day be Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! :-)

All my love,

  2 Responses to “Practical Perfection”


  2. All the very best with your project, I Isolda.

    With love,