Do you ever get so wrapped up in ambition that it feels like your life won't begin until you reach your goals? In Pixar's Soul, we meet Joe, a man who has always wanted to play jazz but has ended up as a middle-school band teacher. He desires a career in jazz and believes that life (as he's always wanted it to be) will begin when he makes it as a jazz artist. (A montage highlighting his most disappointing auditions might seem familiar to those of us whose passions rely on audition after audition.) After falling down a manhole, he ends up on a conveyer belt to the "Great Beyond." Realizing that he'll die if he goes to the "Great Beyond," he escapes and ends up in the "Great Before" where after a series of events, ends up being assigned to mentor a jaded soul named 22, who doesn't want to go to Earth.
I don't want to give away the entire movie, but this is a kid's film so we already know that although others have struggled in mentoring 22 and helping her find her spark, Joe will be able to succeed where the others failed. The overarching theme of this movie is that although we tend to think of our purpose/spark/meaning/value is all in what we do (especially if we're very passionate about what we're doing), perhaps it is more in simply being and truly experiencing life. It's a good lesson in a world that has trained us to treat life as a series of levels that we have to conquer in order to feel satisfied. "My life will truly begin when..." And in the anticipation of finishing that sentence, sometimes we forget that we're alive right now.
Soul is out now on Disney+.