And a Fish Shall Lead Us

This article is a Guest Post about the spiritual insights in Finding Nemo
contributed by Larry E. Coleman.

“Watch Finding Nemo and then journal about the pain and suffering in your life,” my instructor said.

I was taking a spiritual development course and couldn’t understand why my instructor would tell a fifty year old man to watch an animated film, but she was masterful, intuitive, and she saw things my ego wouldn’t allow me to see—and that’s what we were working on at the time—my ego, my shell for covering up all the hidden fears I had.

Yes, there was a reason why she wanted me to watch Finding Nemo, a reason why the film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2003, and why the film has gross nearly $900,000,000 worldwide. Yes, there’s a reason why it still remains one of my all time favorite spiritual movies—and the animation is only a small part of it.

Finding Nemo’s worldwide appeal is the story, and hidden within the story are so many wonderful spiritual insights that it is nearly impossible to watch the movie and not take hold of at least one of them. Let me give you a few examples of how I interpreted some of the messages in Finding Nemo. But first, let’s supply a little backdrop of the movie in case some of you have forgotten it or have never seen the movie before.

1. Nemo’s mom and his unborn siblings were eaten by a barracuda.
2. Because of this traumatic event, Nemo’s father, Marlin, promised that he would never let anything happen to Nemo, who was the lone survivor.
3. The trauma of losing his family caused Marlin to be overprotected (fearful).
4. Marlin’s overprotection was compounded by his view that Nemo had limitations
because Nemo was born with one short fin. (Nemo call it his ‘lucky fin.’)

Here’s what I personally came away with by watching this wonderful inspiring story, and the lessons I believe my instructor wanted me to glean from it.

1. The ego perceives limitations by what it sees in this physical reality and couples this belief with fear. The fear then acts as a catalyst to bring about a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In other words, Marlin’s fear that something might happen to his son came to fruition. He got exactly what he tried so desperately to avoid; his son being captured.

My instructor was trying to get me to understand that I was drawing many negative circumstances into my life through my own expectations, and my expectations were shrouded in fear.

2. The ego is often energized by fear. It does this under the guise that it knows what’s best for itself and other individuals.

That is to say, Marlin tried to project his own fears into the life of Nemo but Nemo rebelled against his father’s notion of fear and limitation. In other words, Marlin attempted to use fear to control his son’s journey by pointing out his limitations, but Nemo chose to follow his own course instead.

Again, my instructor wanted me to see that my attempt to control situations, events and the people around me only made life more difficult. In other words, ‘strength sets up resistance.’ She was telling me to relax and learn to go with the flow of life—a lesson all of us could learn.

Perhaps the moral of the story in Finding Nemo is this: Peace can only be achieved by following your own current downstream. Dory, a wonderful fish character in the movie, puts it this way: “When life gets you down just keep swimming.”

I think I’ll follow her advice.

This article was written by Larry E. Coleman.


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