Monday 10 October 2011

Mr Holland's Opus

Recently, I was introduced to the 1995 film, 'Mr Holland's Opus', starring Richard Dreyfuss.

Mr Holland is a musician and composer. He dreams of composing music that will be performed to many. Like many in his field, he takes his teaching certificate as a 'fall-back' in case the composing doesn't pay. In the film, we see him as a young newly-married man, who takes a teaching job in a high school. With his income, and his wife's, in four years he will be able to give up teaching and concentrate on composition. That is what he really wants to do.

It doesn't happen! Mr Holland teaches, grudgingly at first, trying to draw out a little talent from a lack-lustre collection of music students. As time goes by, he becomes loved by the students for bringing out their potential, but still he dreams of being a famous composer.

Mr Holland's teaching career is brought to a close, age 60, by budget cuts at his school. Now, he protests at the lack of options for the pupils at the school, but to no avail. He thinks he has achieved nothing of what he should have, as he wanders through the school a final time. Hearing a noise from the school assembly hall, he opens the door to find out what it is, and is greeted by enthusiastic applause. Pupils, past and present, are there to say thank you and wish him farewell. The Chair of the Governing body gives a speech. She tells the audience that he is not famous, and he has dreamed of being somewhere else. Then, stirringly, she says to Mr Holland:

'Look around you. We are the notes of your symphony!'

It's good to have hopes and dreams. Yet I wonder how many of us spend much of our lives wishing that we were somewhere else, when all along we are in the right place? Perhaps our impact where we are, is greater than our impact would be if we were where we wanted to be? Maybe, when we meet our Maker, God will rewind the film of our lives and say to us, 'These people you served, these situations you battled through, these times when you thought you had achieved nothing - these are the notes of your symphony!'

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