What I learnt from Matilda

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I am one of the people who love musicals.

There I said it; I have outed myself.

Those of us who love musicals are a very tight tribe; when we meet we burst into song; but we are few.

Bringing up the topic of being a musical lover is a little like the anxiety one feels when talking politics or religion, when you have no idea what the other’s view is: I am aware that by telling you this you may think less of me, but it is a risk I have to take.

But I am proud that I know all the words to Les Miserables and Miss Saigon, and Rent, and The Sound of Music, and Fiddler on the roof; the list goes on …. no really it does.

So when I saw that Matilda (written by Roald Dahl, adapted by Tim Minchin and produced by my old employer the Royal Shakespeare Company), was coming to Melbourne I knew it was a musical worth seeing.

It was a beautiful outing for me and the family and I loved seeing the wide open stares and smiles of wonder on my children’s faces; even though my 12-year-old son declared that he ‘hated musicals’, the first movie he ever saw was The Sound Of Music, so he has had his share.

What I did not expect from seeing this musical was the profound messages in some of the songs; musicals are many things, but profound is not usually a word associated with them.

One of the songs Matilda sings is called Naughty, and the lyrics that jumped out at me and moved me deeply were:

“Just because you find that life’s not fair, it doesn’t mean that you have just to grin and bear it, if you always take it on the chin and wear it, nothing will change.”

Such words of truth from a 5-year-old (well, I mean, Tim Minchin who is 40).

The lyrics say it all: it is so much easier to complain and gossip and feel disempowered and tolerate things than it is to take action and change things.

Taking action is very, very hard for most people, but unless we do, nothing will change.

The other song I loved was Telly:

“All I know I learnt from Telly, what to think and what to buy; I was pretty smart already, but now I’m really, really, really smart, very, very smart.

Endless content endless channels, endless chat on endless panels, all you need to fill your muffin, without having to really fink or nothing.”

Every action we take either brings us closer to or further away from what we want.

Start from where you are. What actions are you taking today?

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