LESSONS FROM MOANA (SPOILERS)
If you have seen the movie Moana you know how inspiring it was, but I want to take a moment to talk about the lessons in the movie. There is a dichotomy in the movie from the beginning between her father and her grandmother. They talk about the island and the sea. The lessons taught to her by both of them ultimately help her understand who she is.
The first lesson Moana learns is through the song Where You Are. The main lesson of the song is to find happiness right where you are. They also tell her the island will need a chief and she will fill that roll. Moana decides she loves her people enough to stay and lead them and build a future together.
Some people might see this song as her parents not allowing her to follow her dream, but I would argue that point. Teenagers dreams aren't always realistic or even safe. Also, if you can learn to find happiness where you are, than you will take happiness with you wherever you go. They are also teaching her that she has the power to positively or negatively impact her world. They want her to stay to help her people. (They funny thing is, ultimately that’s part of why Moana left. She knew that she must leave the island to help her people.)
Moana learns another lesson from her grandma. She tells her, “the village may think I'm crazy... but once you know what you like well, there you are.” She is showing Moana that it's more important to be true to who you are than to have everyone's approval. She also tells Moana to listen to her father, but to also listen to her voice inside.
Moana struggles with that concept. She feels torn between staying to lead her people and leaving to save her people. She's torn between the lessons of her father and the voice that is calling her.
Ultimately, Moana chooses to save her island. She overcomes many obstacles and brings Maui to fight Taka. When Maui fails he gives up and leaves her all alone. That is when she is visited by the spirit of her grandmother who reminds her that she has come so far and asks her, “do you know who you are?”
This it the crucial turning point in the movie. This is the moment where Moana reflects on her journey. She says, “I’m a girl who loves my island, I’m a girl who loves the sea.” She’s realizing that she can love both, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. She goes on to say, “I am the daughter of the village chief, we are descended from voyagers.” Once again both things are part of what make her who she is. For so long she thought she had to be one or the other. Finally the song reaches the most important part of the song, “But the voice isn't out there at all, it’s inside me. It’s like the tide always falling and rising.” She finally realizes who she is, she trusts her inner voice and it tells her she can save her people on her own.
These lessons that Moana learned become important when she tries to fight Taka. Everything comes full circle and Moana tells Taka, “this is not who you are, you know who you are.” Taka receives her heart and returns to who she really is, Te Fiti. Moana is the only Disney movie where the “bad guy” is saved rather than defeated. Moana giving the heart back to Te Fiti is our last lesson. The lesson is we shouldn’t use all or nothing thinking. So often we think in dichotomies. From our two party political system to simple opinions like cats vs dogs, chocolate vs vanilla etc. When we see the world in black or white we miss out on all of the incredible colors. We should look to understand each other, not defeat each other.