A Little Happier: That’s Okay, Buddy

I love the story of Mary Poppins, told in the brilliant, uncanny books by P. L. Travers, and also in the Disney movie starring Julie Andrews.

Because I love that story so much, years ago, I took my daughter to see the Broadway show of Mary Poppins. It was a very elaborate production, with a lot of complicated sets – at one point, Mary Poppins even flew over the heads of the audience.

This memorable moment occurred while the play was underway, and they were singing a song that wasn’t in the movie, and there were some big figures on stage – I can’t remember if they were giant clown heads, or monsters, or what, but they were all moving around as the actors sang and danced. Among the actors, of course, were the two children playing Jane and Michael Banks.

At one point, something went wrong with the set, and everything slowed to a halt. The boy playing Michael gamely kept continuing with his lines – you could practically hear the advice “The show must go on” and “Whatever happens during a performance, kid, don’t let it throw you, just keep going as best you can.”

So he kept going, even after the other actors had stopped. Clearly, they all realized, this was going to require the curtain to come down so this situation could be fixed.

But the boy kept going for a few moments after everyone else had stopped, until a deep voice issued from the side of the stage, and said, “That’s okay, buddy. You can stop.” It was hilarious, and also quite moving.

And for some reason, that moment has just stuck in my head. And sometimes, when I feel like I’m pushing myself past the point where I really should stop for a break, I hear that voice in my head say, “That’s okay, buddy.” Sometimes, it’s okay to stop, even in the middle of everything that’s supposed to be happening.

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