Small Fish, Big Wisdom

Elizabeth Uncategorized

(Originally published July 18, 2012)


Last week, I was watching the Pixar animated film Nemo with my 6-year-old daughter Anne-Charlotte, and the scene near the end with the whale really struck me; so much so that I resolved then and there to write about it.

(For those of you who have not seen the film, there are no spoiler alerts here, but I do highly recommend the film, even if you don’t normally “do” the animated stuff: there’s plenty of interest visually and content-wise here to please even the most discerning of cinephiles: I know because I am one!)

We were watching in French, so I don’t have the English available to quote from, but in a nutshell this is what was going on: Nemo’s father Martin (what is his name in the English version?) the clownfish and his tag-along companion Dory are on their way to find Nemo in Sydney, and to get there they ask for help from a “little fish” who turns out to be a whale.

Dory thinks she can speak whale, and the fussy clownfish tells her she can’t, worried about pissing off the mammoth sea mammal with a mocking simulation of whale talk. They end up getting scooped up into the whales’ mouth, the whale bleats something, and as all the water is evacuated, the clownfish is desperately clinging to the whale’s tongue so as not to be swallowed. Dory reports that they’re supposed to “let go and fall to the bottom of his throat.” Martin protests: “Of course he wants us to let go! So he can eat us!”

Dory reminds him that sometimes you just need to know how to trust that things will work out. “How do you know that things will work out?” he asks, desperately. “I don’t,” she replies, while letting go and falling to the bottom of the whale’s throat.

Of course, it turns out that the whale didn’t want to eat them, but was depositing them via her spout into the Sydney harbor. Dory could speak whale after all! And they got exactly what they asked for instead of the certain death that Martin the clownfish was afraid of.

I loved this little lesson for kids about how situations that look like total disasters can actually be taking us exactly where we want to go.

Interestingly enough, I really needed to hear this then: I was in the middle of my telesummit, and while things were working on the surface, there were lots of behind-the-scenes heart-stoppers going on. If you were on the summit, you know that at first there were issues with the replays, but there were lots of things you didn’t hear about! Here’s just one example:

At 11 pm on the night before the summit, my assistant who had loaded the first call alerted me that it was only 7 minutes long. Excuse me? Yes, only 7 minutes. As it happens, earlier that day I had decided to record a new telesummit intro to tack onto the front of the first call. Well, due to a misunderstanding, the person in charge of the editing had put the new intro straight onto the coda that I had previously recorded, with no actual call in between!

By the time my team got to work the next day and could sort it out, the summit was set to start in just a few short hours. Three hours until showtime, we had the newly edited call ready, but I couldn’t get it to download here in Moustiers at anything but a snails’ pace (we’re talking as few as 2.4 kb—yes, that’a a k, not an M—per second), so I wouldn’t be able to hear it before the summit began. I just had to trust that it was all going to work out!

As it happened, I listened to that call live, and it was fine. Sure, there were 2 endings to that call (the first one didn’t get snipped off as I had instructed) but at least the call played normally.  Shortly after slipping my headphones off, I picked up watching Nemo with my daughter, and there was that whale scene. Perfect timing! I decided then and there to go to Cannes with them to the beach the next day and thoroughly enjoyed myself. (I’ll send a photo next time; having a hard time uploading here, so we’ll make do with only one photo.)

Tell me, what have you experienced recently where you could’ve practiced more Nemo-style trusting? Or where did you trust and it worked out so perfectly that it left you breathless? I really want to know!