How Watching “Luca” Made Me Want to Live Again

Maybe I am ready for the surface

Photo by Tiago Ebisui via Unsplash

On Saturday, June 26, 2021, after my fingers tapped away feverishly at my laptop and my eyes scanned several articles to which I set free into the world of vigorous reading, I slouched in my favorite chair — my heart at ease and mind ready and succumbed to the gift that is Luca. Disney+ has become my refuge — my place of entertainment and subtle peace.

Over the last few months, I’ve enjoyed viewing Raya and the Last Dragon, Soul, and various Pixar “Shorts” that have placed me in a state of sheer calm, maniacal laughter, overwhelming sadness, or complete satisfaction. But it was Luca that reminded me of what it feels like to want to get back out into the world.

Without spoiling the movie (too much), I will tell you it is of a young sea creature who befriends another and the two of them leave their home in the ocean’s deep to temporarily live on land among humans. Both of them yearned to scratch away at the surface and explore a world about which they had no actual knowledge.

Trying to meet their goal introduces them to a town of avengers who make it their life’s work to rid their waters of “sea monsters” and they find a friend in a young girl who has a goal of her own. Giulia/Giulietta gives the two friends a spark they needed and through no fault of her own, causes Luca and Alberto to fall into a verbal brawl that opens their eyes and changes their hearts.

But it was Luca that reminded me of what it feels like to want to get back out into the world.

If you are a sentimental being, then I assure you, this animated film will pull at your heartstrings. There is a connectedness to truly living and the longing to explore everything the world offers at every angle and from my chair — I felt the need to get up and out into a once locked-down-and-plagued-realm and live — seriously live. I haven’t felt this way in a long time.

From the deep, I saw myself swimming to the surface, gathering my pre-COVID-19 self, picking a place on the map, packing, and getting in my car to head straight to that very spot. I envisioned traveling again — more importantly; I wanted to travel again.

I wanted the fresh air of the mountains hovering around me. I wanted the expansiveness of the unfamiliar to reach out to me. I wanted . . . to feel free again and to act on it with no regrets.

I felt the need to get up and out into a once locked down and plagued realm and live — seriously live.

I wanted to be Luca.


As life would have it, things are slowly trying to reopen and people are re-familiarizing themselves with their favorite places — if those places are still up and running. They are taking flights to see family members. They are reconnecting with friends and holding newborn babies. Many of them are seeing and meeting with relatives who they have not seen in over a year.

While watching Luca, I wanted to be among this crowd too. I want to shed a bit of skin and drive back down to Asheville, North Carolina, or Southern Virginia or the tail end of Georgia. I saw myself with my carry-on, phone, earbuds, and books, boarding a plane to Alaska or Washington or Texas.

I think I’m ready to live.

I wanted . . . to feel free again and to act on it with no regrets.

The movie has a variety of quotes sure to stick with me as the future introduces itself. A few of my favorites are:

“Look me in the eye. You know I love you, right?” This is from Luca’s mother, Daniela, as she tries to make him understand why she does what she does for him — his safety is of the utmost importance in her eyes.

“Silencio, Bruno!” A mantra/motto for Luca to say — gifted by Alberto to get him through his fears — sort of a way to speak to that inner voice inside you that constantly hounds you and attempts to get you to not do what you intend to do.

“You got me off the island, Luca. I’m okay.” This is also from Alberto as he bids farewell to Luca right before he takes the train to go to school with Guilia.

“I’m not crying, you’re crying!”

I didn’t think an animated film could reach its hand out to me, lift me from my disillusioned state, and show me I can live again and I should at least try. Trying is the hardest part, though, isn’t it? I am one step closer to willing my body to press itself against the world. I simply have to put on my shoes, tie them, and place one foot in front of the other.

There is a world out there slowly opening back up, ready for me to take a damn chance. Maybe it is time I emerge from the deep and make my way to the surface. But then, I learn about new variants of a virus that blows through every system it touches, leaving people forever changed, and I am hesitant again.

I don’t want to be. I just am.

And then there are days when I shake myself free from my prison and say, “Let me just grab my mask, hand sanitizer, and various supplements, notepad & pen, music, and Jernee. I have places to go, people to see, and living to do.”

“Fifteen minutes at a time, though. Fifteen minutes at a time.” Deep down — in the wells of my wavering spirit, I plea not to pressure myself. And I won’t. But maybe, just maybe, it is time.


Originally published in Age of Empathy via Medium.