I saw the movie Moana four times in two days. I blame it on my three-year-old niece Journee, who not unlike any other toddler, never tires of watching the same thing over and over. And over again. To her defense and my hypocrisy, I do the exact same thing. I’ve seen Aladdin at least a hundred times. Usually, I’m knocking down theater doors to catch the latest animated film, but Moana didn’t pique my interest like usual. The storyline didn’t draw me in the way other Disney movies did and…fine, I’ll just say it: I felt like we had already done the Hawaiian thing with Lilo and Stitch so it seemed a little been there done that-ish. I know, I’m sorry.
After being practically forced to watch Moana, I set aside my preconceived notions and gave the movie a fair chance and I can honestly say, it wasn’t my favorite. The whole demi-god deal was different in a way that didn’t quite suit me. And then the songs weren’t as up to par as I expect from Disney- I know I’m in the minority on that one. What I did love about Moana though, was the out of this world CGI cinematography. It was everything: colorful, exuberant, and breathtakingly real. I swear, I thought I could walk right through my television screen and onto the warm sands of Motunui. For that reason alone, I’d be willing to watch Moana a fifth time.
Just because I didn’t like the movie all that much, doesn’t mean there was no takeaway. There’s always a lesson to be learned. Moana’s journey was both inspiring and relatable. One that we all face in a way. Deciding to choose our destiny despite how hopeless the odds appear, is a battle we must all face. Moana made me feel capable. Like whatever it is I’m supposed to do, I can do it.
Moana left an impression of confidence, resilience, and courage on this 27-year-old heart. There were three lessons in particular that resonated with me.
Running from or ignoring the truth won’t make it any less real. Moana’s father did everything in his power to stop her from embarking on a Journey he knew would be dangerous. Even after he saw the effects of the curse beginning to infect the island, he held on to stubborn fear. He pretended that all the signs were coincidental and not a derivative. Blinded by fright, he chose to ignore it. But the burden of the curse did not lighten because he pretended it didn’t exist. If anything, he further encouraged it by being complacent and unacting. It was able to spread more rapidly because there was no resistance to it. Our problems don’t dissolve just because we don’t face them. Unacknowledged, they fester.
Do it scared. I loved Moana’s courage. She knew she had to fulfill her destiny of restoring the heart of Te Fiti. She didn’t know exactly how or what to do, but she went anyway. She had no idea where to find Maui, yet she found him. What we often fail to realize is that the answers are within the journey, not before it. We spend a lot of time worrying and being apprehensive about trying to gather all the tools we need before we embark. Some tools, we simply acquire along the way. So, so what because we don’t have a military like plan on how to fulfill our purpose. Jump anyway. Leap nonetheless. We’ll do it scared if we have to, so long as we do it.
What we do affects others. Because Moana was courageous enough to war against fear, her entire island was saved. Our society preaches a lot about self-love, but I think it’s truly about loving others. Finding ourselves in others. Learning to embrace those that are broken so that we may also allow ourselves to be embraced beyond our faults. And yes, I do believe that it is possible to love others without first loving yourself. When we do for others, it allows us to see an entire community within ourselves. What we do matters to others. How we live our lives today sets precedence for future generations. Many times dreams and purposes go unfulfilled because we lack confidence in ourselves. But say we were to shift the focus onto others and how us accomplishing our goals will have a positive impact on them. How different a place this might be.