Movies often impart life lessons. The visuals, the language, and the story come together to gift us inspiration, motivation, and determination. Slumdog Millionaire, Citizen Kane, and The Titanic are just a few of such cinematic gems which teach us something about life that we never ever knew about. Now, there is another addition to this amazing list. That addition is Ang Lee’s Life of Pi.
Yann Martel’s Booker Prize winning book, Life of Pi has been transformed beautifully into celluloid by Ang Lee of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. The story of a boy surviving a ship wreck has more to it than meets the eye. Apart from being a magnificent spectacle filled with amazing visuals and a great feast for your imagination, it also had some good lessons. Hidden behind the surface, there are many important lessons about life.
1. Stay Focused
Pi’s father Santosh Patel says this to Pi at the dining table, when he was getting curious about different religions and wanting to follow all of them at the same time. It’s difficult to follow different paths at the same time, as many of them are conflicting and often create confusion and make it difficult to stay focused and at times, lead to a wastage of crucial resources.
2. Life is about adventure
The sense of adventure we have as children is something that is lost as we grow older. Having a sense of wonder will always make you feel young, and creating that as often as possible will keep you curious and youthful.
3. Pushing your comfort zones will keep you alive
We can be prone to creating comfort and settling amongst it. But it’s not until we are tested and we have to go beyond this area of coziness that we learn the most about ourselves. Keeping yourself on your toes will keep you sharp, and allow you to take advantage of any opportunity that comes your way.
4. Religion creates a comfortable routine and give us a false sense of security
Most religions give us a set of routines and doctrines that give us a sense of peace because of their proven track record. Being born into a society that is open to almost all religions, Pi tries every religion and explores their rituals and routines in trying to find meaning and purpose in his life. This of course doesn’t get him anywhere, and in many ways, makes him ever more frustrated.
5. We all share a common goal, survival
Every living thing is on a constant struggle to survive. This alone gives us something in common with every living thing and should bring us closer to understand their purpose.
6. Life is open to interpretation
This cliché is often misused but in the case of the movie, life is open to interpretation. We all look at the same things happening around us, but we all interpret them based on our understanding and life experiences. This puts us firmly in control of how we process the information that we receive. It’s up to us if we decide to find meaning and purpose in everything or become a victim of circumstance.
In times of crisis, it is the strength that we gather from within ourselves that keeps us going, not a higher power guiding us or giving us that energy. In the movie, Pi turns to god and asks him why he is putting him through all this, and what else he wants. He sees it as a test instead of an eventual outcome of a series of random events. When he stops looking for guidance, he finds it from within himself and grows as a person. You have more courage than you know.
8. Don’t put your eggs in one basket
In an effort to protect his food from Richard Parker, Pi stores all the food on the raft that he built. Apart from the tiger, Pi wasn’t aware of any dangers to come. When the whale appears at night and causes the boat to capsize, all the food is lost and Pi is left desperate. When we have little, we try to protect the little that we have while we go searching for more. Placing everything you have in one place, or everything you believe in one ideology, will leave you with nothing when unexpected dangers come your way.
9. Everyone loves a good story
A story doesn’t always have to be realistic to get its point across. If we have the choice between two stories, both with the same moral meaning, but one that was filled with adventure and intrigue, we will always pick the magnificent story over the other. It isn’t always about the meaning but about enjoying the process of learning it.
10. Always have a plan and keep a journal
When Pi is thrown into the ocean with limited supplies and a hungry tiger, he has to have a plan to survive. Luckily for him, he had food supplies and a notebook. It’s important to keep track of progress and refer back to it when you need to. We can’t rely on our memory and keeping a journal will make you think more about the actions you took and why you took them, even if like Pi you end up losing the journal. A plan for the limited resources he had ensured they lasted longer than they would have if he simply ate when he was hungry. Therefore, having a plan is essential, not optional.
Check out the book for the full experience of the story here and for the visual spectacle, see the movie spectacular here.
So, these are a few of the things I learned from Life Of Pi. What about you?