A Scene From Finding Nemo:
“Would you just stop it?”
“Why, what’s wrong?”
“We’re in a whale, don’t you get it?”
“A whale, ‘cause you had to ask for help, and now we’re stuck here”
“Wow. A whale. You know I speak whale.”
“No! You’re insane! You can’t speak whale! I have to get out! I have to find my son! I have to tell him how old sea turtles are!”
“There, there. It’s all right. It’ll be okay.”
“No. No, it won’t”
“Sure it will, you’ll see.”
“No, I promised [Nemo] I’d never let anything happen to him.”
“Huh. That’s a funny thing to promise.”
“Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.”
“What’s going on?”
“I think he says we’ve stopped.”
“Of course, we’ve stopped. Just stop trying to speak whale, you’re gonna make things worse. What is that noise? Oh no. Look what you did. The water’s going down!”
“Really? You sure about that?”
“Look, it’s already half-empty!”
“Hm...I’d say it’s half full.”
“Stop that! It’s half-empty”
“Okay, that one was a little tougher. He either said we should go to the back of the throat or he wants a root beer float.”
“Of course he wants us to go there! That’s eating us! What is going on?”
“No! No more whale! You can’t speak whale!”
“Yes, I can!”
“No, you can’t! You think you could do these things but you can’t, Nemo!”
“He says it’s time to let go! Everything’s gonna be alright!”
“How do you know? How do you know something bad isn’t gonna happen?”
Happy first Chapel!
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’ve carried myself my past 3 years in the upper school and what’s struck me most as I’ve progressed through my learning. While thinking and reading, I remembered this scene that we just read from Finding Nemo. The last time I saw this, it particularly resonated with me when I thought about myself in both roles – Dory and Marlin.
Here’s how I think of this in context of high school. Risk taking is inevitable because we don’t step into this world knowing everything.
So why do we take risks…why should we…how do we take risks and what does it feel like? What does it feel like to struggle with both your inner Marlin and your inner Dory, and what can we do from there?
Here’s what I’ve learned from this scene and from my experience here: First, we have to take risks, and sometimes a whale will eat us when we ask for directions. But don’t necessarily expect things not to be okay because they aren’t now.
When you get eaten by a whale, it’s pretty easy to forget how you ended up there in the first place, and easy to put unreasonable blame on ourselves. Though you chose to ask for the directions, you didn’t choose to be in a whale. And that’s okay. Recognize that maybe you need to be in a whale right now because that’s the only way you can find your Nemo, no matter how tough this feels in the moment. Marlin freaks out because he thinks he’s going to die in the whale, but completely forgets about his cause -- he took a risk and had such good intentions. So, in the end, the journey you may be on may not be between two points. Don’t let the in-the-whale moments devalue your intentions and disrupt your purpose.
Another thing about risks is that we don’t always have control over what happens to us, no matter how much preparation we do. Marlin says, “I promised I’d never let anything happen to him.” Dory thinks that’s a dumb promise because then nothing would happen to Nemo! Sure, you can sit in a room all day and pretend you have control over if anything happens to you. But ultimately, to do anything OTHER than sitting in said room, you’re going to have to walk out. You’ll have to take risks, as I said before. But what happens from there is not always under your control.
What can you control? One thing. How you react. Which leads me to this:
Trust your gut. Your inner conscience, your truest voice, that culmination of thinking and learning and values that may come down to what seem like really little moments with a lot of weight. When you put yourself out there and need to react to something, trusting your gut should always be in the picture. Instead of however much you think you are worth based on your past decisions, know that you are worth however much you give yourself in the moment. Occasionally, on tests with multiple choice questions, I used to not let myself believe my answer was right, despite studying and knowing. I would deny my gut feelings because I thought it better to know I was wrong before anyone told me...but here’s the thing...I wasn’t wrong. Like Marlin, we are inclined to assume the worst in these moments. There is no doubt about that. So, I would use any failure I had in the past as evidence that I should assume the worst -- the worst being that my answer was wrong -- kind of like what Marlin does here. After what happened to Nemo’s mom and now Nemo, he’s so afraid of doing something wrong again that he doesn’t quite trust anything. If you’ve ever felt like this at all, or feel like you could, I need you to tap into your inner Dory. Why Dory? Well, our brains are wired to remember our negative experiences more than our positive ones to keep us safe. Dory not only has a positive attitude, but she has short-term memory loss! Dory physically can’t draw on some of her negative experiences to tell herself that she’s wrong. Maybe you’re thinking that’s dangerous in some cases, which is valid, but in a lot of cases like this one, putting aside every thought in your mind that could deny your gut feeling is what needs to happen. Dory only has her gut to tell why they should jump. She doesn’t know, but it doesn’t matter. As I mentioned before, your instinct in this moment is a culmination of hours of thinking and learning and values. Be the Dory, have confidence, and trust your gut. Everything will be okay, even if it doesn’t seem that way in the moment.
These are all the things I’ve found helpful to keep in mind when I ask myself why I take risks at all.
If you get one thing from this reflection, PLEASE take risks this year. Find your Dory. Trust yourself for who you know can be, not anything negative with which you label yourself. Let yourself decide.
I leave you with this quote from Howards End:
“With infinite effort we nerve ourselves for a crisis that never comes. The most successful career must show a waste of strength that might have removed mountains, and the most unsuccessful is not that of a man who is taken unprepared, but of him who has prepared and is never taken. Margaret hoped that for the future she would be less cautious, not more cautious, than she had been in the past.” (Forster, 76)