Contains no spoilers, just vague references to the general theme of the movie. However, if you prefer going into a movie blind, it may be better to save reading this for after you’ve seen Moana!
It is rare that I cry during a movie. Rarer still that I’ll cry because it’s sad. In fact, what tends to spark my tears is when a movie strikes a particular chord inside of me.
I started tearing up within the first ten minutes of Moana, and kept going all the way until the end.
Again: Moana is not a sad movie. In fact, it’s an inspiring journey of self-discovery through the act of defying expectations by leaving home. Interesting coincidence, as the major theme of my life this past year has been defying expectations by leaving home to go on an inspiring journey of self-discovery.
Starting to get an idea of why I teared up?
For most of my life, I have had a very small set of expectations for what my life and career would entail. I did not plan to move far from my home in Edmonton — I got my undergrad at the University of Alberta, then spent the next two years wedging my foot in the door of Edmonton’s advertising community. The boldest of my plans was to one day, maybe, perhaps, start my own company if I could find the right business partner (surely, I couldn’t ever do it on my own). But even that plan involved staying in my home city.
That isn’t to say I didn’t like leaving home ever. I traveled a lot, both for dance competitions and family holidays. But I was never brave enough to truly consider going somewhere else and staying there on my own.
Do you ever get that urge to get in your car, start the engine, hit the road and drive and drive and drive without looking back? No planning required, no destination necessary, just the road and the moon and the hum of the engine as you leave your home and everyone you have ever known far behind?
I do. I always have, since I first got comfortable behind the wheel of my car and realized that I could go anywhere anytime I ever wanted. The feeling wasn’t ever about going to a particular place, just the need to leave.
Trouble was, for years I was too terrified to follow through.
I couldn’t imagine life without my family close by. I couldn’t imagine leaving friends behind. I was petrified by the thought of relying only upon myself, of trying to navigate through a place I hadn’t grown up in.
So that’s where I was for years: in the same city, stuck between the need for familiarity and the desire to go go go go go. Until at last, I realized I wasn’t as scared as I used to be. At which point I quite literally hopped in my car and drove across the country.
(Yes, it was a practical decision to take my car. But that wasn’t the only reason I did so.)
Six months later, I am sitting in a theatre at the end of another semester. Classes are over. I have lived on my own in a strange city for half a year and survived. In two weeks, I travel home to my family for the holidays. In just over a month, I move to another new city to start an eight-month residency.
And, on the screen in front of me, I watch a girl make the decision to leave the only home she has ever known.
She searches for fulfillment.
She searches for herself.
She searches for something bigger, something better: a horizon that can never be reached, a path that has never before been sailed, a way of life that defies expectations.
And as I watch the wind fill her sails, I start to cry.