Being featured as the vocal soloist for the celebrated film-maker, Hayao Miyazaki’s most iconic film “My Neighbor Totoro”, will always be one of the highlights of my career.
Miyazaki’s beautifully animated movies have delighted children and adults alike for over 30 years. His vivid imagination transports us into stunning scenes filled with the glory of everyday life, if we will only slow down long enough to enjoy it.
Hayao Miyazaki is highly revered by anyone in animation. Everyone at Disney’s Pixar is a huge fan, especially John Lasseter, the director of the original Toy Story. In Toy Story 3, Lasseter gave a nod to the film by including a plush toy of Totoro as one of Bonnie’s toys.
Some of the biggest fans of all are among my 22 year-old son Benjamin’s generation.
I remember back in the day when Ben was in Jr. High School and his friends were in our family room gathered around the TV. They were watching the movie, “My Neighbor Totoro.” As I heard my own voice floating through the house I wanted to tell them it was mine, but I felt a bit shy about interrupting my son and his Jr. High-school aged friends. That could be scary! But I decided to be brave. I walked in just as the opening song finished and announced, “That was me.” They all stopped and looked at me with annoyed confusion on their faces. Obviously, I had interrupted their movie and invaded their space . “What do you mean?” they finally asked. “That’s my voice”, I said, “I’m the one singing that song. In fact I sang all of the solos in this film.”
At that moment the looks on their faces went from annoyed confusion to absolute shock, especially Ben’s! “Are you kidding me Mom? We’ve been watching this for years. I had no idea it was you!” Immediately they were on their feet asking me about my experience. It just so happens that my son and all of his friends who were there that day were in the school choir. Many of them were interested in pursuing a career in the entertainment industry.
That day I went from “mere” Mom to “interesting” Mom in an instant.
I’d like to say it didn’t mean that much to me, but it did. It was a lot of fun and a definite boost to the “old” ego. But the good news is, it meant much more than that. Something happened that day that changed my relationship with my son and his friends. They started to know my story.
I can honestly say, it allowed me a certain entry into their lives I did not have before. In that moment my son’s friends discovered something relatable about me, which then opened the door for me to have at least a small amount of trust and input.
Stories are the most important possessions we carry through life. Most everything else can be taken from us, but not our story.
Look for ways you can share your story with others. Share moments in your life that will cause you to be more relatable. Do it with sensitivity of course. Make sure you are inclusive and turn the focus back to those you are with. But go ahead, be brave! Sometimes you may even have to invade someone’s space, but the rewards will be great as you go from “mere” to “interesting”.