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To Watch: Kon-Tiki (1950)
A documentary film recommendation.
Title: Kon-Tiki (Documentary)
Directed By: Thor Heyerdahl
Starring: Thor Heyerdahl, Herman Watzinger, Erik Hesselberg
Runtime: 59 minutes
How to watch: Amazon Prime Rental
Disclaimer: The infamous Kon-Tiki expedition led by Thor Heyerdahl was embarked upon a racially controversial theory that has since been debunked. For this reason, this film does not stand up in terms of historical accuracy—and I would like to make clear that my recommendation is for other reasons stated below.
Plot: In 1947, a six-man Norwegian team led by Thor Heyerdahl sailed from Peru on a raft made of balsa-wood hoping to prove Heyerdahl’s pseudoscientific theory that the Polynesian Islands were originally populated by indigenous peoples living in the Americas.
It was his belief that the original inhabitants of Easter Island were fair-skinned peoples, having floated westward from the Americas on primitive rafts held together by rope and without steering mechanisms, using only the currents of the wind. Any “stone-age” peoples (aka non-whites), he purported, would have been incapable of skilled navigation against the wind currents and vast distances of the Pacific Ocean.
Scientists have since proved Thor Heyerdahl’s theory wrong. Yet, his expedition was still a success.
This film documents the Kon-Tiki’s 101 day-long journey in 16mm black & white footage, and ends with the team landing on an uninhabited islet off Raroia atoll in the Tuamotus islands.
The reason I recommend this films stems from the great Alan Watts, who was the subject of last week’s book recommendation. In one of his speeches, Watts talks about the process of decision-making, and the desire of control.
“People have a great deal of anxiety about making decisions. So, when we decide, we’re always worrying, ‘Did I think this over long enough? Did I take enough data into consideration?’
“And if you think it through, you find you never could take enough data into consideration. The data for any decision in any given situation is infinite. So what you do is you go through the motions of thinking out what you’ll do about this, and then when the time comes to act you’ll make a snap judgement.
“I mean, I'm speaking a little extremely, making some fun of it and so on, because, after all, we do occasionally get the big outlines of things and make a right decision on rational grounds—but we fortunately forget the variables that could have interfered with this coming out right.
“It's amazing how often it works. But worriers are people who think of all the variables beyond their control and what might happen, so then, when you make a decision and it works out all right, I think very little of it has much to do with your conscious intent and control.
“The more you let go of it and trust it as if it were quite other than you, the more you realize the inseparable identity of self and other.
“If you ever saw, for example, the film Kon-Tiki, this man figured out a few things as to how to make a balsa wood raft to sail from South America to the Pacific Islands.
“But once he had set this in motion, he discovered that all sorts of unexpected factors cooperated with him—that when the wood got wet, it expanded so that the ties bit into it and held it completely secure. He'd never expected that. And he found that as he sailed along a flying fish would simply alight flat on the deck every morning for breakfast.
“That all kinds of natural factors—it was just as if he’d touched a key where he was flowing with the course of nature and everything cooperated because he had touched the key. He'd made the act of faith.”
The idea is that when a person relinquishes control, the universe tends to open itself as a force of aid. In other words, you make a decision based on faith, and things tend to work in your favor, oftentimes unexpectedly.
There will always be cons to counter the pros when it comes to decision-making. Unfortunately for many, these potential negatives will weigh enough to never take the leap in the first place—even if the leap is what the heart desires most.
So, to anyone who reads this, who is wanting to or thinking about taking a leap—whether related to work, relationships, possible adventures or lifestyle changes: I say do it.
Set sail into the vast unknown. Let the wind guide your back. You may awake to find yourself in the exact place you wanted to be.
Because what happens if you don’t?
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