learning from Mountainfilm: Maidentrip
A 14 year old girl who was born on a boat and now lives with her father, divorced from her mother, on a modest income decides she will be the youngest person ever to circumnavigate the globe in a sail boat. She does it. With style, wit and youthful disrespect. A punk version of Jingle Bells plays while she wears a Santa outfit for a Christmas celebration, in the middle of the ocean, alone. Across the span of this lovely film she comes of age, the world goes nuts, she experiences fame and decides never to return to her native Holland. Her old world is a world of confinement. Her new world, aboard the Guppy, is about freedom. It is a metaphor of course, she is free, she is alone, and, because she is a modern teenager, she is connected so, as Sherry Turkle would claim, she is alone together with her friends and family.
The story is uplifting of course. In terms of smiles per mile it is a joy to watch and filmmaker Jillian Schlesinger weaves her narrative really well. But there seems to be an undercurrent here, one that reflects the kind of insight we are finding in our constant research of youth: we have to reassess what “adult” and “child” really mean. The Dutch Government was so convinced that she was not an adult that they threatened to make her a ward of the state. She prevailed.
Throughout Mountainfilm there are young storytellers and activists who are redefining the meaning of a productive life. In so doing they are opening up the next rift. It is generational, make no mistake. They see themselves as active participants in the evolution of our consciousness. They see the skills of storytelling as essential to reframing our understanding of who we are in the world. They see, with the clarity of visionaries, that they are part of a shift in the way we interact with the world. In other words, they are changing the world meme by meme. In successfully achieving her goal, becoming the youngest person to circumnavigate the world solo, Laura Dekker decided to continue. She sailed to New Zealand and adopted a new identity, a perfect manifesto for the young: What and who do you want to be? You have the power to choose. It is a perfect example of the new normal: adults are adults from the age of thirteen, it is society that is out of sync not the young.