“I hope that all of you are inspired to maybe not journey across the ocean like Moana does, but to journey to find yourself.” – Auli’i Cravalho (Actor/ Singer)
Moana: an amazing (one of many) film by Disney, filled with powerful themes, funny scenes, interesting characters, and inspirational moments.
There is incredible depth to the story and it’s characters; so many facets you can look at and glean something interesting from. The tale focuses on Moana, daughter of the chief of Motunui, and chosen of the ocean to sail far from her home into order to restore the heart of Te Fiti.
There is so much we can learn from Moana’s journey; how she sees the world and the actions she takes to define, not only herself, but ultimately everyone in her sphere of influence (and, in ripple effect, beyond).
But in this blog, I’m focusing on a different facet of the movie. In fact, I’m focusing on a different character altogether.
Strong, self-assured, charismatic, Hero of Men (and women), with many prominent talents … and an ego the size of the ocean itself. And of course, there is the highlight of Maui’s confidence and power: his magical fish hook.
And this is what I want to settle on: Maui and his fish hook.
Now, Maui is not a character I can relate to much on a personal level; I am nothing like him as far as personality or disposition. But one common thread connects us, and it is something that really resonated with me when I first watched the movie … Maui’s relationship with his fish hook.
And you’re thinking “Whaaat do you mean by that?”
For me, Maui and his hook are a symbolic reflection of myself and my talents (as a writer and illustrator).
So with that comparison presented, I’ll continue.
Maui places high value on his magical accessory, understandably. With it, he has the power of metamorphosis; he can shape-shift into any creature he desires, and that creature is imbued with his demigod strength and cunning. With his hook he wrangled the sun and pulled islands from the sea. He cannot help Moana fulfill her quest without it, and therefore the pair must retrieve it from the conniving Tamatoa’s lair before they can continue on to Ta Fiti.
It’s pretty clear that Maui’s hook plays a vital role in all he does. His hook is his power.
But, it is also his shortcoming. Not because it’s absence renders him without magical powers (because that’s true); no … the shortcoming lies in the fact that Maui places his self-worth into the hook, and in doing so loses his true power: the power of knowing who he really is.
But Maui is not the sum of his awesome fish hook powers. The fish hook does not make him him … but of course, he does not have this revelation at first. As the movie’s story arc progresses, we follow Moana and Maui’s journey as they each come to their own revelation of self-discovery and self-worth. We come to the crux of Maui’s inner beliefs when his fish hook is damaged by the duo’s first confrontation with Te Ka.
Maui is angered and aggrieved and ends up abandoning Moana and her quest, over fear of losing his fish hook, and subsequently his powers (which, in his mind, is also the equivalent of all his worth and value as Maui the Hero of Men).
This triggers Moana’s own personal inner crisis, but, as we all know, both find their way out of their dark hours, and team up to continue (and ultimately succeed) in their quest.
But I am most impressed with Maui’s turn-around. Despite his enormously egotistical disposition, when push came to shove, he found understanding in the importance of Moana’s quest, and the importance of his role in it. He stepped down from his ‘I am the Chosen Hero’ status, and fell into the role of guardian and helper, ready to sacrifice his most important possession (his hook), and ensure Moana (the true Chosen Hero of this tale) fulfilled her destiny.
“I’ve got your back, chosen one. Go save the world.” – Maui
And, more importantly, he came to the realization that he was Maui, with or without his fish hook. He was Maui.
And it is from his place of humility, of learning that others saw value in who he was as Maui, and not Maui with the Magical Fish Hook, that his hook is restored to him.
I found this arc in the movie personally convicting, but empowering.
I am guilty of projecting my worth into my talents. And as consequence, when I felt my talents were falling short of my expectations for them, I fell into a deep personal sense of failing. That I was the failure. Even though I knew (in my head) that was not true … I had trouble planting that head knowledge into my heart.
But I have since come to the new, and right, revelation. I have my talents, but they are merely tools to wield to help me fulfill my purpose. My talents are only a small part of who I am as a whole. I am not the sum of my talents. I am so much more.
I know that if I lost my abilities and was unable to get them back, that I would still be me, and I would still be loved and valued.
This understanding, that has (finally) moved from my head to my heart, is so freeing.
And I wanted to share this revelation with you. In case there are others out there like me, like Maui, who have made the mistake of setting up their self-worth in their talents (or status, or number of social media followers, or money earned etc).
I am more than the sum of my talents. You are more than the sum of yours.
Believe that, and be free of all the misplaced expectations and striving.