A Change in Perspective or What I Learned from The Evil Baroness and Shirley Valentine


The happiest life is that which constantly exercises and educates what is best in us.
(Philip Gilbert Hamerton)



When I was seven years old and watching The Sound of Music I thought the Baroness was akin to the Wicked Witch of the West, attempting to destroy my beloved Maria.  In my twenties I felt sorry for the deluded (albeit much better dressed) gold digger.  But somewhere in my forties I noticed my eyes filled with tears, just as hers did as she said good-bye to the Captain. I felt bad when I realized her hopes and dreams (and hard work) for security had been dashed by a beautiful, younger woman – and I noticed the dignity with which the Baroness gave up that hope.

I started watching the movie Shirley Valentine when I was in my late twenties.  There is a scene where she has an “aha” moment and looks in the mirror and says, “I’m not going to look at myself and say, ‘Geez, you’re 41, Shirley.’  I’m going to say, ‘Shirley, you’re only 41!’”  The sense of that played out differently in my head when I watched it at 29 (oh, poor woman) than it did when I was 41 (preach it, sister), and, again, at 50 (self-acknowledging chuckle).

As you go through your life, your perspective of your purpose will change as well.  That’s a good thing.  As I’ve said before, I don’t think that we see our purpose perfect and whole in the first place.  I believe that God gives us a taste of it to stir our passions up and to get us going.  Sometime the twists and turn come from challenges and circumstances.  But sometimes they come from simply having a different perspective, an “aha” moment that puts a different spin on things.  Don’t let it scare you or stop you.  It doesn’t mean anything is wrong, things are just playing out differently in a different time of life.  When this happens, it’s important to  slow things down a little and allow yourself to take advantage of this gift of a fresher take on things, of being able to keep what you’re focusing on relevant.  Don’t think what you’ve known and learned up to this point should be tossed out – carry it with you, but don’t let it alone define you.

Getting to your purpose is not about racing to the finish, it’s finishing the race well.