I’m a child of the nineties. Born in the late eighties, my childhood was dominated awkward jeans, way too colorful windbreakers, Backstreet Boys, and tamagotchis. But one of the most important sources of inspiration at my young age was Disney. Although I didn’t spend too much time in front of the TV (thanks parents!), those Saturdays when my dad rented one of the grand Disney movies always were a highlight.
Until today, I’m the biggest Disney movie fan. I know most of the songs by heart, and my sisters and I can’t even have a single conversation without integrating at least one Disney quote.
Looking back, I just recently realized that all those great Disney movies of the nineties have something in common: The hero at the crossroads.
Think about it: Ariel, Aladdin and Jasmin, Pocahontas, Hercules, and Mulan — they are all caught in-between worlds, they long for changes, they know that there is something unknown out there worth exploring. I could always relate to these characters and their desires to search for more.
“Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl, the girl who has everything?” sings Ariel wondering why she is not satisfied with what she already has. She knows that there is another world, and she is willing to pay every price to explore it: “Ready to know what the people know, ask ’em my questions and get some answers”. Get some answers. Isn’t that exactly what we are looking for too?
A whole new world?
“A whole new world, a new fantastic point a view” — How many times I’ve sung these words along! Just flying away? Fleeing the prison of your everyday life? Being someone else, somewhere else? Leaving behind the expectations of what your life should look like? Aladdin deals with the same questions that define my daily thoughts. Aladdin and Jasmin struggle with what their lives look like, and they both want to break with the social roles they seem to be predestined for.
“Unbelievable sights, indescribable feeling; soaring, tumbling, freewheeling through an endless diamond sky. A whole new world: Don’t you dare close your eyes”. Isn’t this just a calling to travel? There are unbelievable sights out there waiting to be explored. And the sky sometimes really might even look like a piece of jewelry.
Pocahontas also searches for the place where she belongs — although she doesn’t feel the need to run away, she still doesn’t know what her role is in the world: “Why do all my dreams extend just around the riverbend?”. She has dreams and longings, which she can’t really identify yet, but she is not ready to give up looking. The water stream always changes, and therefore she just doesn’t want to commit to standstill.
Go the distance!
My all-time favorite song is “Go the distance” of Disney’s Hercules. This song could have easily been the theme song of my life: “I have often dreamed of a far-off place” where “a voice keeps saying this is where I’m meant to be”. Yes. All I can say to this. Yes, I feel just like that.
I’m at the crossroads, just like Hercules. I dream of far-off places, places where I feel like I belong.
It might take a lifetime
But somehow I’ll see it through
And I won’t look back
I can go the distance
And I’ll stay on track
No, I won’t accept defeat
It’s an uphill slope
But I won’t lose hope
Till I go the distance
And my journey is complete
Isn’t it just remarkable that all these major Disney movies feature heroes and heroines, who are caught in-between conscientiousness and the everlasting desire for something new? Their lives are described by the constant dilemma of social expectations and the eternal longing for more. They struggle with the same problems that we are facing in our youth.
I’m not saying Disney caused my difficulties with making decisions, or my desire to see the world in the first place, but those songs were stuck in my head for a greater part of my youth. Maybe they somehow inspired me to become the person I am today: A little restless, a little dreamy. But mostly — full of hope that I will one day find the place where I truly belong.
(What I might have been saying here though: Put a few of these songs on your iPod for your next trip — amazing travel inspiring music with thoughtful lyrics that will give you goosebumps, because they bring back childhood memories.)