I thought I had previously dissected the Disney movie Moana here, but it seems I have not. I have, however, created an image of my analysis and posted it on Facebook, so here you go (read clockwise after “yellow”):
Overall, the movie follows Campbell’s Hero Journey. That is, a hero/a is taken out of their everyday world by some external crisis and embarks on a perilous journey to restore order. Along the way, they receive an older guide and mentor that helps them get there part of the way. There is usually an early confrontation from which the hero/a is defeated and brought low. By rallying allies and relying on their new strength/skills, they push onward toward a final confrontation and victory. The movie follows this format with one caveat: at the dark night of the soul, Moana chooses herself. She is helped to this conclusion by her now-spirit grandmother, but it is a moment in which she decides her own fate.
Essentially, Moana heals herself through action so that she may heal the world.
I feel this is an important and sometimes overlooked step and lesson in our world today. Many of us feel called to help, one way or another, make a better and more just world. Sometimes, we are quite literally chosen by a deity or circumstance of experience. But when do we chose ourselves? When do we find “that quiet place still inside” us and ask how to continue the quest?
Many times, we are wounded and in need of healing ourselves. The terrible conditions of the world around us tears at parts of our “soul” (which is shared truly with the whole world and all its beings). Leaving this wound untended can “bleed out” our strength and resolve, or prevent us from making the personal gains needed to overcome greater and tougher obstacles. Our efforts stall, or worse, we’re laid low and unable to recover.
I know this feeling. I have suffered it and continue to struggle with it. I believe it’s time to pause now, in our collective dark night of the soul. Before the next election cycle, before the dreaded prophecies of climate change, before the collapse we all fear is coming: heal and, perhaps, chose yourself again.
Beyond mystic graces and messages, beyond what ought to be or is even needed, the moment (and the movie) asks: “Do you know who you are?” Because, if you do not possess a deep-rooted, existential drive to walk your path, you will eventually turn away from it, or fail. If who you understand yourself to be doesn’t encompass your quest, whatever that may be, then your actions will seem daunting and draining and no victory will seem complete.
Therefore, you are tasked with the very quotidian but entirely mythic job of knowing yourself. Whether or not your “chosen path” truly aligns with that which drives you will determine how successful you’ll be, in the end. It is no coincidence, then, that at the holiest oracle of ancient Greece these words were carved: “γνῶθι σεαυτόν, gnōthi seauton, know yourself.”
May your strength always come from within, for none are greater than the self-chosen hero/a.