I had Disney Pandora whispering through my ear buds the other day at my office for so long that after a while, I started getting songs like Woody’s Round Up from Toy Story 2 and the credit song from Monsters Inc. Nevertheless, I was thoroughly enjoying the background beat when the song I Am Moana from Moana came on.
Before I go any further, I’ll add that I don’t use Spotify. For odd reasons I can’t explain, I feel really loyal to Pandora. I also like that when a song I like is playing, I can pause it at the end and then when I press play again, it will start at the beginning. This only works on my work computer, but I’m not questioning the system. It’s basically free skips without the ads.
So it should go without saying that I had listened to I Am Moana about 8 times before I noticed something really important. First of all, I really like this song. I’ve written about it before – in this post where I talk about the importance of breaking a never-ending to-do list into small action items. I’ve read and dissected the lyrics. I’ve found poetry in the waves of sound. I really, really like this song.
But this time, I found myself holding onto it for a different reason. For some background – this song appears when Moana is at a point of Disney character crisis. All hope seems lost and she is alone and dejected. The spirit of her deceased grandmother appears and begins to comfort her. Then she asks Moana: Do you know who you are?
Now at this point – I’m thinking about all my low moments. I’m thinking about times I’ve been frustrated and stressed and uncertain about myself and the future and everything. In those moments, I would want to start with what I know is true and steady (that is, if in my likely dramatic state, I thought anything was true and steady). I would want to stick to what feels comfortable.
Moana responses: Who am I? I am a girl who loves my island. I’m the girl who loves the sea.
She literally begins with the contradiction. She begins with the thing that is hurting her heart and causing her to feel this pain and divide between what is expected of her (to be the daughter of the village chief and lead her island) versus what she feels called to do (be the hero the greater world needs).
She starts with what she knows – even if it is a contradiction – maybe even because it is a contradiction. Maybe because she’s finally learning that she can be both things at once. Loving the sea doesn’t mean neglecting the island – in a way, quite the opposite is true.
She continues to say: I am the daughter of the village chief. We are descended from voyagers.
This again, plays the contradiction of what she has known her whole life as the future village chief (island) and the whole voyagers thing (sea).
And then she says this: I am everything I’ve learned and more.
She is everything she has learned and more. She is a little bit island and a little bit sea – coconut, salt, and everything in between. And maybe that’s okay.
Maybe it’s okay to be a little Sour Patch Kid-like sometimes. Maybe we’re all just a swirling mix of this and that. Maybe it’s okay.
Moreover, I love the way the song plays because I feel like it’s an inner monologue for how I think. Her grandmother asks who she is and she begins this conversation with herself to figure out what we knew all along. She is Moana. She is Moana if she loves her island. She is Moana when she loves the sea. She is Moana who is descended from voyagers and she is Moana who has been on this amazing journey.
Her grandmother asked who she is and she really could have just cut to the last realization – she is Moana.
And you are you. You are you before your morning coffee and you after your evening workout. You are you in a ball gown and you hanging upside down from a tree. You are you – for all your inconsistencies. I promise.