What I learned from Pocahontas

The 33º Disney Animation Movie wasn’t really a big hit. Not, at least, where I lived. Everyone I asked responded (then and now) that Pocahontas is definitely not his or her favorite. Most people didn’t even bother to watch. But I always loved it. No other movie talked to me more about our place in this Earth and our relationship with it than Pocahontas. It taught me some things that, in my belief, are essential to what I became. So I decided to share the top ten reasons why it affected me so much – just in case you didn’t watch, or in case you did watch, but did not pay attention to these parts.

1) Prejudices only leads you to more and more misconceptions.

Here is John Smith thinking he owns the world just because he is supposedly “the civilized one.” But is he? He has no respect whatsoever for anything that is not human. Pocahontas herself sings: “How can there be so much that you don’t know?” But he does have an open mind when she presents new perspectives to him, something that counts in his favor.

2) Men think they are entitled to the land they decide to possess.

There’s an available place somewhere? Then surely you can claim it and take out everything that is on the way, like trees and whole ecosystems. Right? Completely wrong. “Every rock and tree and creature has a life, has a spirit, has a name,” you know? And each of them deserve respect. What gives you the right to take away a life just because it bothers you, or it’s on your way? That tree is just as important as you.

3) If you cut the tree, you’ll never know how high it can get.

How many times have you stopped something before it properly developed? Like a situation, a relationship or a dream? You cut it, either for fear or because it doesn’t suit you, and then you lose the incredible opportunity of knowing what could have been. Don’t stop it unless it threatens to (really) harm you.

4) There are big dreams and small ones.

Pocahontas was supposed to marry Kocoum and have a quiet and stable life. He would take care of her and she would do the chores that were expected of her. In “Just Around the River Bend,” she sings: “To be safe, we lose our chance of ever knowing,” which in my opinion pretty much sums up most of human lives. But the thing is, she had this restlessness that told her she could be more, have more, live more than that. She needed the unexpectedness of what the curve around the river bend would bring, and that’s not a mistake. It’s just a different kind of ambition.

5) Have the courage to jump.

It takes too long to go all the way, and Pocahontas is impatient. So what does she do? She jumps off a cliff. Not only practical but incredibly bold. Think about it: she is trusting the world and herself completely – to the point of risking her safety. I like to see it as an analogy for life. Very few people have the courage to jump, but when they do it is always a thrill and an inspiration (unless it is for suicidal reasons – then it’s just sad).

6) Fear leads to war.

Well, not always the one with guns and bombs. But if you think about it, fear really provokes wars, even if they’re just inside your head. Between what you want and what you don’t believe you can get. Between what you don’t know and how you think that might affect you. Pocahontas’s people didn’t want to go to war, they avoided it all they could, but they were afraid of being hurt, so they decided to fight back.

7) Diplomacy resolves almost everything.

Pocahontas stopped a war and a fair shed of blood with only the power of her speech. She was able to convince her father that it would accomplish nothing, and that there were easier ways to solve the matter. You have to admire her for this, if nothing else.

8) Instincts are precious, and you should hear yours.

Hers came from a compass and from the wind. And her grandmother in form of a tree. Well, everyone is entitled to their own way of perceiving what instinct tells them. She was right about hers, wasn’t she? There was not a single time in my life that my instincts were wrong. And I hear the same from other people. So, hear yours. Only good things come out of it.

9) Your enemy can turn out to be your best friend.

Meeko (the raccoon) and Percy (the pug) fight against each other the whole movie, but somewhere along the story they start to understand each other, and the gap that prevented their affection ceases to exist. One act of kindness from Meeko and things were not so bad anymore. We all know life’s not so easy, but you should take that into consideration if you’re in the middle of a fight with someone.

10) Follow your heart, even if the end of the chapter is not what you imagined.

She loved John Smith, we are all sure of it. But at the end, she didn’t go with him. She felt the need to stay and heard her true desires. Most people have particular trouble with the end, because technically you follow your soul mate everywhere (s)he goes. But it’s not as simple as that. Sometimes you can’t, or you’re not willing to, and that’s ok. It’s no good to do something only because people you love want you to. You have to do what you feel is right for you. And the confidence to do whatever it is you feel you should do comes from the knowledge that you’ll be fine whatever the outcome. And you know what? You usually are.

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