Saturday, June 15, 2013

Lessons From the Life of Pi

Lessons from the Life of Pi:

There are many lessons throughout this wonderfully complex movie …too many to write about in today’s newsletter.  Some of those lessons I will be blogging about at
However, if you have not watched the movie, please do so and focus (for the purpose of this article) on the part of the movie where Pi trains Richard Parker.  (Richard Parker is the tiger’s name.)
In this segment of the movie a lot of lessons have already been learned by Pi, especially a really important, but perhaps harsh lesson (sometimes in life we need a bit of harshness to get the point).  That lesson was:  tigers are tigers and they are carnivores.  They will eat you.
Pi’s father taught him that lesson when Pi was very young and he was getting ready to feed the tiger by hand.  For those of you who are parents, think about how quickly you react when your young child runs out into the middle of oncoming traffic.  A good parent does not say, “Now Jimmy or Susie, don’t do that.”  A good parent grabs the child from the middle of the intersection and proceeds to find a way to express how dangerous that action was and insist it never ever happen again.
Pi learned that lesson and it came in very handy when he was in the middle of the ocean for days, if not weeks, on the same boat as Richard Parker.  Pi was clearly intimidated and afraid and spends most of his time on a very poorly made raft, keeping a safe distance from Richard Parker.  Richard Parker on the other hand enjoyed the boat, with shade and lots of space.
This raises the therapeutic question,  “What are you doing on the raft when your fear is ruling you from the much more comfortable life boat?”
Finally, when Pi became more and more uncomfortable on the raft, he decided it was time to train Richard Parker.  The battle between human and beast - or you and your fear - begins.
In the beginning, the training did not go well and Richard Parker maintained control of the lifeboat.  But one day, Pi decided that perhaps it was a good idea to make Richard Parker seasick.  The next few scenes are a brilliant display of Pi rocking Richard Parker’s luxurious lifeboat while using the gentleness of the whistle to comfort Richard Parker.   The whistle created interest in Richard Parker and he began to pay attention to the whistle.  From that point on, Richard Parker and Pi created a safe dance between the two of them and they were able to co-exist with mutual respect and awareness; they needed each other.

Who is Richard Parker (fear) in your life?
How is Richard Parker taking over your life and your comfort zone?
How can you begin to train your fear to be under the trance of your whistle in order for you and your fear can co-exist?

Perhaps your fear will never go away or perhaps one day it will walk away in respect to your needs, as Richard Parker left Pi lying on the beach.  But none the less, for now your fear is like Richard Parker, an untamed tiger that needs to be trained in order for you to move forward in your life.  I invite you to write about you and your relationship to your fear pretending your fear is a wild beast that if given a chance will eat you alive.  See what comes up for you.

If you want to explore this metaphor more fully, you can email at to make an appointment to explore what this movie can do for you.