Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Tris & Tiana

So I have already compared Tris from Divergent to Mulan. Now she, or rather her story, is striking me as being quite similar to Tiana from The Princess and the Frog. It's that theme that is similar also to Chocolat (more to the book than the movie), where it's specifically asceticism versus hedonism. With Tris that theme is Abnegation versus Dauntless, and with Tiana it's hard work versus taking a break.

There is a fine line between finding power within yourself and also not letting yourself become absorbed in that sense of power.

Tris grew up in Abnegation, where the philosophy was to be selfless and live only to help others. Then she joined Dauntless, where the idea was to be bold and always strive to be the best and to let everyone know that you're the best. So she had to find that line of realizing her own abilities while also wanting to use those abilities not just for self-centered reasons. Tiana grew up with the idea of working hard for your dreams, so she worked dusk to dawn every day, giving up any and every opportunity to go be with friends or to take a night off. From Naveen she learned that enjoying moments is also important; you can work hard but you can also enjoy life because otherwise the working hard isn't worth it. You see the Chocolat thing here, right? Do you hold yourself to a strict lifestyle, or do you give yourself up to pleasures? Ideally, neither one.

Reading Tris's story was so inspiring to me because she is a small person, a person who moved from the background into the foreground. Her journey of discovering how to balance these two life philosophies fascinates me. And Tiana. The Princess and the Frog came out while I was in college, and I wanted to be like Tiana. She was so hardworking; I felt like I needed to be that. But then time passed and I realized that I can sometimes be more like Tiana than I think: I sometimes need to learn the lesson that she needed to learn, too. That lesson is, of course, about taking those moments. And that's an important thing: finding that balance makes such a difference.

And yet there remains that fine line. You find that power. You find that ability in yourself, that capacity to be Dauntless or to go wild out in the bayou, and you still need to hold on to some of the things you learned in Abnegation or from all those years working 5AM to 11PM. You have no power if you do think you're powerful. The power doesn't come from yourself. That's why hedonism doesn't work. And that's why you also can't fade into the background; it isn't your right to do that, either.

Am I making any sense? This post made sense in my head, but I fear I'm not being very clear. Asceticism versus hedonism; you get that, right? All I'm saying is that a balanced, fulfilled life lies in between the two, not at either end. And Tris and Tiana, their stories teach us that.

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