In the Disney movie Moana, my favourite, the storyline in case you didn’t know is based on Moana, the young daughter of a Polynesian village chief, confined to island life and the duties to her people.
Moana is constantly called by external voices to move beyond the small island world in which she lives, journey across the oceans like her wayfinding ancestors and explore the possibilities that lie beyond the island reef.
Throughout her journey of discovery, Moana comes up against every conceivable challenge and setback all of which continually thwart her efforts until she end ups lost and defeated on her boat out at sea.
That is until the spirit of her grandmother returns and Moana tells her I tried Grandma but I couldn’t do it. Her Grandmother tells Moana if you’re re ready to go home I will be with you. When Moana hesitates, Grandma asks her, why do you hesitate? Moana replies I don’t know then Grandma sings to her:
I know a girl from an island, she stands apart from the crowd.
She loves the sea and her people, she makes her whole family proud.
Sometimes the world seems against you, the journey may leave a scar.
But scars can heal and reveal just where you are.
The people you love will change you. The things you have learned will guide you and nothing on earth can silence, the quiet voice still inside you.
And when that voice starts to whisper Moana, you’ve come so far, Moana, listen, Do you know who you are?
Who am I? Replies Moana and then she responds with,
I am a girl who loves my island,
I’m the girl who loves the sea,
It calls me.
I am the daughter of the village chief,
We are descended from voyagers
Who found their way across the world, they call me.
I’ve delivered us to where we are,
I have journeyed farther.
I am everything I’ve learned and more
Still, it calls me.
But in the next line of the song Moana has an epiphany when she realises and sings the call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me…… of course by now I’m fist-pumping the air, I’ve got goosebumps and the tears are tripping me up. I mean I knew from a few minutes into the film, this is where the story was going but to see it unfold and to travel with Moana on her journey reminds me that as women we’ve been doing this our whole lives, as will our daughters and granddaughters and while our journeys don’t include Polynesian chiefs and mythical Demigods voiced by Dwayne The Rock Johnson, we all have an inner Moana.
So in the end, when in answer to her Grandmothers question, do you know who you are? and having now made the leap from not knowing, to knowing, she triumphantly belts out I AM MOANA…. This is, of course, the exact same moment my Granddaughter and me stand up tall, turn to face each other and at the top of our voices, with arms outstretched and heads raised in fearless defiance also belt out I AM MOANA.
Incidentally, this is also the moment when my granddaughter hugs me with all of her might then cups my face in her hands and says Grandma when you have to leave me….. promise you’ll come back like Moanas grandma and guide me (Oh my heart)……
That moment when Moana discovers, it’s inside me, is something we all carry. It’s true, it already exists in your heart and in your mind. It’s what you’re known for. It’s what lights you up. It’s what others can see in you. It’s what they admire about you, in fact, the author of The Big Leap Gay Hendricks, calls it your zone of genius and writes:
that when you dare to make that leap from your comfortable zone of excellence into the unknown realm of genius, the universe conspires to help you. That’s because what the world most wants and needs from you is that which is uniquely yours to give. Something that literally no one else on the planet can deliver.