Anyone remember Aladdin?
Y’know, the 1992 Disney movie that won the hearts of many a child (and probably some adults too, if they’re honest) in the nineties? If you don’t, check out this original trailer (even if you do, it’s still worth checking out!). It’s also high time that it came out on Blu-ray! Sorry, I’ll reserve fangirling for another space. Maybe. Probably. Anyway.
Anyhow, when Aladdin is contemplating how to win Jasmine’s heart, Genie helpfully offers: “BEE yourself!” whilst dressed up as a bee. Yes, it’s cheesy or dorky or earnest or whatever else others may call it, but that does not negate its truthfulness. Aladdin does not listen to his guidance though and – just like every other time in movie plot history when the protagonist is offered sage advice – dismisses it as the audience groans, throws popcorn at the screen, and yells, “No! Stop it!” Or, maybe that’s just me. Probably not, though.
Every time I watched that – especially now – I just want to shake his head! “Listen to the genie! He’s right! He’s a GENIE! He’s been around waaay longer than you! LISTEN TO HIS WISDOM!”*
*I realize this has to happen for the movie to progress and for the main character to learn anything, but I reserve my right to protest to fictional characters.
In the end, Aladdin realizes Genie was right: all he needed to do was be himself. He needed to stop pretending to be something he was not, because that’s who Jasmine really liked: the “street rat” with a grouchy monkey, who was kind, had a sense of humour, and lived in a ramshackle building that had a great view.
I’m going to issue a warning here, because this really might start to sound like an after-school special, but please: I would encourage you to look at it with your inner child’s eyes. You know, the one that wanted ice cream before bed more than life itself, the one that thought it was the best adventure ever when your family got lost and had to pull into a random gas station/antique store and where you saw so many old comic books you almost keeled over, and the one that thought it was the best feeling in the world, EVER when your dad hugged you. I know everyone’s got one, no matter how near or far away from the surface they may be.
It’s important for each of us to be ourselves: to be that person who loves what they love so much it drives them, and sooner than they realize they’ve spent the whole day doing this thing they love, and they don’t even mind.
For me, that’s writing, primarily. I’ve spent days and nights, literally, during my university classes writing fiction or essays or other creative writing (don’t worry, I took some breaks!) and loving it. Others would despise doing that because it’s simply not their passion, but it is mine! I have also been known to spend inordinate amounts of time organizing**, or playing Halo, but that doesn’t fall under quite the same level.
**In grade 11, I once handed in an assignment 2 days late because each day I went home and got so absorbed in cleaning/organizing my room I forgot to finish typing it up. I kid you not. I mean, I’ve handed in the odd assignment late for other valid reasons, but… It almost turned into 3 days. Luckily, the teacher believed me because she knew me. And apparently it’s a *special* kind of people who love organizing so much they’ll forget their homework…thinking back on it, it seems rather ironic. Hmmm.
For other people it might mean loving animals so much that you take animal studies in university, start a comic with dogs as main characters and, when a random bird flies into your workplace, you calmly, gently catch it and bring it back outside (true story, actually.)
Or it might mean loving information and technology so much you self-taught yourself, never stopped reading about the field, got an awesome tech job without a degree or diploma, your room looks like an HQ from a spy show, and you have so much white noise it lulls you to sleep at night (also a true story).
It means being your goofy self! I bet if we’re all honest, we all have some “goofy” aspect to ourselves. I also bet everyone would have at least a little bit of fun while forgetting what to think of what other people are thinking of you, or not thinking of you. I’m not saying I do this all the time either, because I’m not perfect. At all. I wish I never worried about what people thought of me, but I still manage to. Sometimes the feeling lasts for longer than it should, and at others I shake it off like Taylor Swift and remember who I was created to be: a person both passionate and victorious in Christ.
Exhibit A: my family and I at our church’s Fall Kickoff today
We love Star Wars, we love our church, we dressing up (well, most of us) and we love the Netherlands National Football Team (or soccer team, as we would say). And in no particular order (beyond our Church being numero uno in this list).
In a novel writing class I took earlier this year, I remember reading a chapter in a textbook somewhere about why we write. One of the main points was that we write because we have a perspective no one else has. It’s for this same reason that we should feel free to be, and share of, ourselves. We can make things that inspire people, that make them feel things they’ve never felt, and see things they’ve never seen. I hope to work up to that level someday, and that my perspective will benefit others.
Before reading this, someone might not have known that a blog post mentioning Aladdin, Taylor Swift, Church and catching birds midair with your bare hands could make sense, but I bet they do now.