If you haven’t seen Pixar’s “Soul,” you’re missing out on this new Disney movie. The animated film brings brilliance, humor and startlingly profound moments. Its arrival at this particular point in time, when the craziest year of our lives is coming to an end, is something of a small miracle. “Soul” features a Black man whose central character embodies likable and intelligent with none of the stereotypical tropes the predominantly white entertainment industry frequently assigns to Black characters. The film suggests observations of the world around us and offers questions and answers about life’s biggest mysteries.
Read on to discover 10 lessons in Pixar’s new movie “Soul.”
*This article contains spoilers*
1. The little things in life are what make it worth living
2020 has been a difficult year for all of us through the pandemic and multiple tragedies. People stayed stuck at home in dismay and forgot to truly live their lives because of the year’s limitations. We miss out on the little things that pass by in our lives. Think about how Joe and Soul 22 are talking and beautiful fall leaves land on the ground, or when Soul 22 eats a delicious slice of pizza for the first time. Disney shows how these two wonderful yet simple scenes in their “Soul” movie make life worth living.
2. Human Connections Should Always be Valued
The connections you make with fellow humans enhance your life in a variety of ways. In each relationship lies memories filled with growth and emotions that can’t compare to the mundanity of routine. In “Soul,” Joe and Soul 22 go to the barber to fix Joe’s hairline. When Joe (or Soul 22’s soul in Joe’s body) speaks to Dez, the barber, about life outside of jazz for the first time, he learns some intimate details about Dez’s life. The scene speaks volumes about the importance of human connection and how it often can be ignored due to being self-absorbed with one’s purpose and routine. Unfortunately, in 2020, missing our loved ones means the new normal. Realizing that human connections are powerful, especially during this time, can really go a long way.
3. Don’t lose yourself in what you think your purpose is. Simply live.
Some people believe that you go through the routine of pursuing a higher education and then finding a career without truly living a life outside of the routine. The routine seems to be built on the idea of needing to find one’s purpose quickly in life and constantly working towards this purpose. In “Soul,” Joe Gardner struggles with pursuing his true passion of becoming a jazz musician because of the pressures of his mother and the limitations of benefits he would receive. He lives his entire life devoted to jazz, where he constantly thinks, talks and looks for an opening to pursue his passion through gigs. This leaves him forgetting to notice how quickly life passes him by. For some people, 2020 has given them the opportunity to have more free time to simply live their lives.
4. “Life is full of possibilities; you just need to know where to look.”
Joe Gardner said this when he learned how the opportunities for passions and experiences lie within the palms of his hands. Joe teaches Soul 22 that there are many possibilities in life to pursue anything you can imagine when trying to find one’s passion. We often forget to truly live a life, with missed possibilities within our reach. Whether the opportunity revolves around taking a road trip to an unknown land or reaching out to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, you just need to look.
5. Don’t get caught up on your expectations of what your life should be like
Passions don’t solely make you who you are; they’re just an extension of yourself and what you love doing. You have the right to be and do whatever you want in this lifetime. If anyone expects anything different, then that’s a reflection of their character, not yours.
“Joe perfectly reflects his passions since the beginning scene of the film, with him getting lost playing the piano while trying to teach middle school band. From the start, we are in awe of him and are desperate to travel to other worlds to escape the expectations life may throw at us,” University of California at Berkeley junior Anabelle Reyes said.
Many people lack valuable experiences in their lives because they feel pressured into societal expectations. This past year helped us figure things out, one step at a time.
6. Don’t Miss Out on the Joys of Life
A simple moment in the film starts when Joe tries to convince Soul 22 about the joys of life. He uses the example of food when trying to help Soul 22 find her purpose. This lesson reminds us that in everything we encounter, we still find joy, and you should always remember those moments. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that the joys in life are always within our grasp.
7. Always Stay Grounded so You Don’t Lose Yourself
This lesson ties Joe Gardner and Soul 22 together with their ability to stay calm and connect to the core of who they are in the face of uncertainty. By doing this, the characters are able to stay true to what they want and grow in an ever-changing world. In the end, both characters show that they can avoid control by the chaos externally but rather their values, purpose and the visions for the duration of their lives. Through the uncertainties 2020 brought us, we all need to stay grounded in our lives and continue to work on ourselves.
8. Practice Mindfulness
A recurring memory for Joe and Soul 22 revolves around their adventures running around the city. Despite the chaos Joe felt trying to switch bodies with Soul 22, and her struggle with figuring out how to live in a human body, both characters learned how to stay mindful. The mindfulness began through every laughing moment, whether the characters were bonding over the beautiful sky or feeling the air in the ground vents.
9. Take Time to Grow into Your Own Person
Some of Joe Gardner’s admirable qualities can bring him into anguish when his mother and inner thoughts pester in his mind. However, the same qualities—passion, dedication and musical talent—also allow him to fight fiercely to be a musician similar to his idols.
“With ‘Soul,’ this Disney/Pixar movie delivers a thoughtful message about those who lose themselves while pursuing their craft. Through Joe we see that apart from measures of technical success, life offers therapeutic, cathartic, expressive, even revelatory aspects to every craft that someone can neglect if they’re locked onto the cold data points in their lives,” former California State Long Beach student Frankie Meono said.
As Joe learns that there’s more to life than constantly running to the finish line, he finds that he’s allowed to be his own person and take the time needed to grow.
10. It’s All Right
A lesson in one of the main tracks heard in “Soul” reminds us in the Disney movie way that everything will be okay. Jon Batiste does an incredible job singing and playing the piano, with the message to celebrate the miracles of life and having a soul to go along with it.
“‘Soul’ reaffirmed for me some of the most important values that I live by: being amazed/inspired by everyday things, to create magic with others and to be grateful that you’re alive at all. It shows beautifully to never give up, while not becoming complacent,” former Washburn University student Dakota McMillan said.
To put it simply, our lives should be celebrated and our journey has only begun.