Why I Identify More With Gill Than With Nemo

March 9, 2012 — 7 Comments

This was originally posted June 23rd, 2011, on RyanHaack.com

I’ve seen Finding Nemo over fifty times, I’m sure.  Sometimes I make my kids watch it just so I can watch it with them.  I mean, what’s not to love?  A cute fish, an overprotective dad who really just loves his son, Ellen, mass murder by a barracuda…I could go on and on.  Plus, there are tons of great lines, like, “Just keep swimming!” and “To the top of Mount Wanna-hock-a-loogie!”

Now, there’s an obvious connection between me and the little guy, Nemo.  In case you’re unfamiliar, or you just haven’t noticed before, he has a “bad fin.”  I’ve always kind of wondered what lead to that part of the story as far as the writers are concerned.  Like, did one of them have a child or relative with a limb difference and they worked it into the story?  Curious.  Anyone able to hook me up with a writer from the movie that knows?  C’mon internet…do your thing.  (Update: I asked Andrew Stanton – writer and director of Nemo – about it on Twitter and he said, “personal experience.” Hmm.)

And while Nemo seems the logical choice, here’s the truth: I actually identify more with Gill.  And not just because he’s voiced by fellow Wisconsinite and total creepy dude, Willem Dafoe.  This scene helps explain why (I know it’s out of sync, sorry):

See, I grew-up having one hand. A “bad fin.” So, I get Nemo. I understand him. But, as strange as this may sound, I’m actually challenged by Gill. He’s an adult with experience, like me, and even though his motives were somewhat suspect, he came around and really took Nemo under his wing. Er, fin. Bad fin. And I’d like to do that, too. I’d like to encourage people who have limb differences like me. Wait, do I have a new hero? I think the answer is yes.

My earlier post about staring garnered a lot of amazing responses and one of them was from a mom named Molly. Molly’s daughter Ryan was born with a limb difference, like me. Now, there were two things I loved about Ryan right off the bat: 1) She has a sweet name and 2) she’s wearing a pink Transformers shirt on their website. Amazing. I also loved Molly’s attitude about Ryan. When talking about her limb difference, she said, “I’m sure you will not be at all surprised that this has NOT slowed her a bit. She is a joyful, brilliant, fearless wonderfully made little girl to say the least. I wouldn’t change a single thing about her.” I believe it.

What’s really awesome is that Molly started something called The Lucky Fin Project. They sell these amazing bracelets to raise awareness and to “celebrate the wonderfully made, one bracelet at a time.” I and my family are so proud to support her and her family as they “educate, celebrate, support and unite.”

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You should totally go checkout the bracelets available and get one. I promise you they really are awesome. And it’s a great cause. Oh, and she has these stickers you can get, too:

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I know this seemed like it turned into a big plug for the LFP, and to some extent that’s true. But, it’s only because I think it’s a great idea and I know Molly’s heart is to help people. And that’s what I’m after, too. I want to partner with people who are telling others that they are beautiful and talented and valuable. And that’s what Molly’s doing. This beautiful bracelet she’s giving them is a visual reminder of the beautiful person they are. I love that.

And I think Gill would, too.

UPDATE: It’s giveaway time! Just make your entries below and you could win this guy:


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7 responses to Why I Identify More With Gill Than With Nemo

  1. LFP bracelets!!! All the cool kids are wearing them (I wear two, actually!).

    Ryan, my son (he’s 10) is a mirror image of you. If I mention reading or seeing something by you, he says, “BING!” complete with thumb(s) up. Thanks for what you do!


  2. so great, my sweet son is just now realizing how different his nub is, he is just now saying things like “why do I have to have a little hand?” He starts kindergarten next year and blogs like yours are so encouraging for him and also help his older sister realize what life might look like for him. Thanks for you honesty and for writing in a way that children can read it and have a role model.

  3. LFP is seriously cool. I’ll have to get one of those “ten fingers are overrated” stickers for my daughter. She’d love it (and completely agree).

  4. Hey Ryan,
    I love your blog. As for Nemo, I watched the dvd where the creators talk over the movie, and they did say they chose the little fin as a metaphor for all parents’ concerns over their kids. I found that so interesting in that it’s true – all parents get scared their kids aren’t “enough” in some areas – whether it’s sports, language, art, reading etc. It put our son’s little hand into the context that all kids have something to work with and it allowed me to let go of the idea that we had a unique issue. I hope that makes sense!

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