The hills are alive with the sound of music and spring has sprung here in middle Tennessee. The beautiful Bradford Pear and Red Bud trees add texture and color to the lush green hills beginning to come alive. And for some reason, the longer, sunnier days and birds chirping on my window sill spark that child-like joy I feel when watching Julie Andrews dancing and singing through the Alps in The Sound of Music. I’m just going to come out and say it; I love that movie.
It wasn’t until recently that my Mom shed some light on perhaps why tears stream down my face whenever I hear the song ‘Edelweiss.’ Apparently it’s one of the songs she would regularly sing to me when I was still in her belly. Edelweiss is one of her favorite spring flowers and as I was a spring baby, that song became part of my pre-birth soundtrack. It now makes a little more sense to me why I have such a profound emotional reaction to the song; it was intertwined in my DNA and part of the love and nourishment I received from conception. I love the movie so much I dragged my sister on a pilgrimage to Salzburg years ago to experience The Sound of Music tour. It was really fun to see where parts of the movie were filmed and to imagine Captain von Trapp and Freulein Maria waltzing in the courtyard of the Salzburg Palace. And I wondered why the story has such an emotional hold on me. I think, in addition to the fairy-tale romance, it’s the courage the family shows in escaping over the Alps, and Maria’s courage to return to the family after she tries to escape to the abbey in realization that she’s fallen in love with the Captain. The Reverend Mother tells Maria she must ‘find the life you were born to live’ and encourages her to ‘climb every mountain’ in search of God’s will for her. And so she does. She returns to the family, acknowledges her love for the Captain and finds the life she was meant to live.
Following your heart, especially when it would be easier not to do so, takes courage. The word courage comes from the French, coeur, the heart. Once we realize this, we realize that we do not have to learn courage, for it is already a part of who we are. Courage is anything we do from a place of love.
The problem with acting with courage is that we have learned fear, and it’s sometimes easier to act from fear. It’s not as risky or vulnerable. And it can be so easy to get caught up in the insecurities and anxieties of this unpredictable, unstable world we are a part of that sometimes we fall into the trap of constantly acting and reacting in fear. At the end of the day we really only ever have two choices – to act out of fear or out of love.
Unlearning fear can be hard, especially as we get older. It’s easy to get complacent and comfortable. And fear is definitely a ‘learned trait’ unlike courage. Just go to a playground and watch kids leap off the slide, climb a tree and throw themselves into life with reckless abandon. But when you fall down and get bruised a few times, you learn not to jump as far or climb as high.
Fear restricts, love expands. Fear keeps us stuck, love moves us through. Fear keeps us complacent, love motivates us to take risks. Fear is cacophonic, love is symphonic.
The next time you are faced with a decision, check in with the intention behind it. Are you making your decision based on fear or love? Maria reminds me that if I live from my heart, I can never really go wrong. And if I’m to find the life I was meant to live, even if right now I’m uncertain as to what that is, I have to climb the hills with courage and follow the song that calls me.
This blog post also appears in the Lifestyle category at Nashville.com.