A Post-Grad Perspective on "Under the Sea"

Sunday, May 17, 2015

I spent the day at Disneyland yesterday, in blatant repudiation of the papers I still have to finish in order to graduate.  And if you ask me, frolicking around the magical land of Disney with some of my best friends, careening through space, sailing with salty old pirates, escaping from the forbidden temple with Indiana Jones, and meeting princesses is definitely preferable to spending all day on homework.

Of course, our trip wasn't complete without a viewing of "World of Color," a nighttime water spectacular in California Adventure, which none of my friends had ever seen before.  I think I've seen it every time I've been to Disneyland since it premiered, and yet I still find myself in awe when faced with those vibrant projections flawlessly dusting curtains of water as they rise above Paradise Pier, and a voice reminding me that, though I may sometimes feel trapped in mundane routine... "the world is a carousel of color," and beauty, and magic.

Last night, I found myself inspired for another reason, which I think has largely to do with the advanced college-level analytical and critical thinking skills I've spent the last four years honing.  The Little Mermaid's Sebastian was singing "Under the Sea," a song that I have heard and jammed out to hundreds of times in my life, but have never thought anything terribly extraordinary of.  If anything, I've always thought that Sebastian is kind of being a party pooper in that song... and now that I think about it, I'm wondering how a song of that nature has turned out to be, perhaps a smidge ironically, one of the most upbeat, fun-filled Disney jams of the past 25-ish years...?  Hmm.

Anyway, there I was last night, really listening to Sebastian sing: "The seaweed is always greener, in somebody else's lake.  You dream about going up there, but that is a big mistake."

And it hit me.  BOOM.  Real-world resonance of a Disney song.

Allow me to explain...

Sebastian's cautioning that "the seaweed is always greener, in somebody else's lake," is, first of all, a reminder not to compare your circumstances to anyone else's.  We know this, as the lyric is a variation on the following familiar adage: "the grass is always greener on the other side."  But what if, in telling Ariel that it's a "big mistake" to dream of the life she might have on land, Sebastian is doing more than trying to convince Ariel to appease her father, or to stay in the ocean with her friend?  What if he's actually pleading with her to recognize the value of where she is, right now, in the ocean?  He does continue to name the benefits of staying in ocean, and the sea creatures join him in a pretty rocking party (and I have to say that if dance parties like that were a staple of my life... I probably wouldn't want to go anywhere).

But Ariel is Ariel, of course.  And we all know how the story goes: she gives up her voice to a sea-witch so she can go win the heart of a man she's only seen a handful of times (usually from afar), and hasn't even had a conversation with yet.  And things actually end up working out pretty well for her, despite the questionable choices she makes.  I mean, she does get married to the handsome prince, and the villainess Ursula is defeated.  It's hard to imagine a happier ending than that.

So what's my point, you ask?

My family has been talking about my upcoming graduation maybe more in the last year than even I have.  Actually, since the very first semester of my freshman year of college ended, my grandpa has been counting down (7/8 of college left!), and my family has teased me for saying that I'd rather just focus on right now.  It's because they're excited for me, I know.  And I am, too.  Mostly.  On the days when I'm not wondering how to pay taxes or bemoaning the fact that my cooking expertise pretty much starts and ends with grilled cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

But in all honestly, I really am looking forward to that day, in just a week from now, when I will get to move my tassel to the other side of my graduation cap, accept my diploma holder, and never have to write another paper again (at least until graduate school).  It's a huge accomplishment, and one that says there are so many more amazing things to look forward to in the future.  It's for this reason that I'm really much more excited than I am sad about graduating -- think of all the adventures that await!

But from what I hear, becoming a successful, full-fledged adult is something that takes a little bit of time.  And then there are those people who say, not entirely reassuringly, that even at thirty and forty and fifty years of age, they're still figuring stuff out.  When I was younger, I'm pretty sure I used to think I'd have my life "all figured out" by this point (which is a phrase I hear a lot of people using, although I'm not even really sure what it means).  But now that I'm basically on the eve of my college graduation, I know it'll be another couple of years before everything is "figured out."  Before I get the dream job (preferably one that lets me travel to Europe a lot), a master's degree (or even a Ph.D.?), a husband, a family, and a life.  And even though those are all things that I hope will happen to me someday, and they're wonderful things at that (just like Ariel's hopes for her own future were), I don't want to overlook the joy of THIS moment, right now, in eagerly anticipating everything that's to come.  I have faith that the future is full of joy.  But this moment is, too.  And I'd rather savor every moment as it happens than let some pass me by because I'm too focused on the happiness I'm convinced will happen for me at some other time.  It's fine to hope for the future.  But hope for right now, too.  For this day.  For the gift of life richly woven into every sweet scent, every vivid color, every laugh, every smile, every song.

That's why I'm hoping, after graduation, to stay "under the sea" while I can.  To enjoy the now.  I'm certain that one day, I'll find my way up to land, to success, without even noticing it, or trying.

1 comment :

  1. What wise words from one so young. Congratulations, Sarah. May you continue to make the most of every moment.