We finished watching The Sound of Music tonight, all snuggled together on the giant beanbags in the attic. I love, love, love this movie—I sing along to the songs and sigh in all the romantic places—which is why I’m upset about how it made me feel tonight.
(Spoiler alert: if you haven’t seen the movie yet, what rock are you living under? It was made in 1965, for heaven’s sake!)
In one of the final scenes when the family is hiding in the abbey, the brown-shirted men come running in with their flashlights as the family cowers behind a tombstone. That’s about when I got a sudden jolt of adrenaline. I felt it in my chest and hugged the kids a little tighter to help myself feel better. It helped, but not by enough. When the movie ended I dragged Mr. December out for a walk, hopeful that the exertion would use up all the extra adrenaline. It didn’t. Even now, writing a blog post two hours later, my body is still on high alert.
I had a similar reaction the last time I saw The Sound of Music, but it was a live production and there was an actor dressed as a Nazi soldier, standing not three feet away from me, that gave me the sudden urge to duck beneath my seat and hold my breath. I assumed that my reaction in that case was because I was part of the scene and it felt so real. I still don’t really understand how just seeing the action projected on a wall in front of me, as I snuggled down safe in my house with my kids, could provoke this feeling of panic and dread.
As we watched that scene (where one of the Nazi soldiers hid behind another gravestone to wait and see if the family would appear), I pointed out to my kids, “If you’re ever hiding from someone, stay hidden a lot longer than you think, even after you’re sure they’re gone.” It’s a bit disturbing that part of me fears they might actually need to know that one day (God forbid.)
A quick web search suggests that this is what’s called collective trauma, or maybe historical or cultural trauma.
“It kind of makes you understand a bit more about how and why people can get so upset about microagressions, doesn’t it?” Mr. December philosophised as I speed-walked along the sidewalk.
He’s right. It does. And it’s also a potent reminder that we don’t know what other people’s baggage is. Sometimes even they might not really know or expect it. I certainly didn’t expect it tonight, but here we are.
I don’t really know how to end this. Not the blog post—that, I can just press “publish” and send it off into the ether, with or without a solid conclusion—but the panicky feeling I still have. Mr. December (well-read on a wide variety of subjects) says it can take hours to come down from this kind of state. I certainly hope not.
And just for the record, The Sound of Music is still one of my favourite movies, hands down. I guess I’ll just stop watching before the end from now on.