Friday, April 8, 2022

You're the Real Gift, Kid

Let’s talk about Bruno.

I have watched Encanto so many times in the past few months, and most of them WITHOUT my kids. The story is relatable and fresh. The characters are vibrant. The music is … well, LMM is a genius. But I really think that the reason I keep coming back to Encanto is because I identify so closely with Mirabel. I just thought it was because I sometimes feel different, and maybe a little effervescent. But after my last Madrigal Marathon, I realized that there are certain energies at play with more characters than just Mirabel. And this speaks to me.

Abuela wants structure and order. She holds on too tight sometimes. She's not the bad guy, she's not doing anything wrong, she’s not “the villain in your history”. She just wants to hold on to her family. 

Mirabel is shaking things up, finding new purpose, injecting life into her sisters. As she says, she is trying to get others to “open your eyes.” She’s not messing things up, she’s not endangering the magic, she’s not the villain either. Mirabel is never given a gift. Her real gift is empathy and joy and love. The fact that she’s alive is a miracle. 

What they never really address in the film is that Abuela is the only other person who doesn’t have a gift. She can’t do magic, she can’t do any of the things her children and grandchildren can do. Abuela’s real gift is organization and order and a lack of chaos. Abuela’s gift isn’t as flashy as her progeny’s gifts. And it’s not as coveted as Mirabel’s gift. But Abuela’s gift is essential to the household. She is stern, but she needs to be, to keep the family together. But Abuela is also afraid of the future, and so she shuns Bruno. Bruno, who is the literal embodiment of the future. 

Mirabel sings that she wants to heal what’s broken. Abuela says that the family is broken. How does Mirabel heal things? How does she save the miracle? She brings Bruno back and reunites him with his family. She heals the family. She saves the miracle. That act of love and empathy IS the miracle. And when Mirabel brings Bruno back, the first thing Abuela does is hug him. She embraces the future. 

I want to heal what's broken. The gifts I've been given in my life are my empathy, my enthusiasm for life, and my ability to connect with others. I've been broken by trauma over the years, and I'm surrounded by people who are broken for various reasons. As I embrace the future and open my eyes, I see myself, and I can heal what's broken.

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