New Year’s Eve 2020 was one of the most somber occasions a lot of us have experienced. Minus the global pandemic forcing most of us to stay home this year. The majority of people were hesitant to even make goals for 2021. Largely due to all of the things we had to scrap in 2020. With virtually zero job or financial security, how can we find excitement in starting a new year? Why create a resolution when every moment feels like impending doom is looming? Disney’s Soul is giving a different perspective on life and the idea of what a resolution should be. Opening to critical acclaim while also quickly becoming a fan favorite, Soul is an animated movie that explores the idea of discovering one’s purpose in a myriad of different possibilities. How can a children’s film do all that? Let’s get into it, mild spoilers ahead.
Soul follows Joe (Jamie Foxx), a band teacher who dreams of being a professional Jazz musician. Upon learning that he has been offered a full time position at his current job, we begin to notice that Joe is unfulfilled by the job and is being pressured to accept the position by his tough, yet loving mother Libba (Phylicia Rashad). Joe also gets a once in a lifetime opportunity to play piano with a renowned saxophone player Dorothea (Angela Bassett). Upon landing the gig, Joe has a near death experience that lands him in a spiritual realm where he meets 22 (Tina Fey). 22 is a soul that has not completed the preliminary seminar required to become a human and be sent to Earth. 22 refuses to complete the seminar because they are convinced they hate Earth as it appears to be too much pressure to sustain a life there.
Joe becomes convinced that the only way he can return back to his body is by helping 22 find their spark. Thus, completing a seemingly impossible task of finally getting 22 to Earth. However, nothing is ever as easy as it seems. Joe has his work cut out for him and 22 will not make it simple. Hilarity ensues but the experience also teaches Joe that having a spark is not at all what he initially thought it was. Does Joe get his body back? Does 22 complete the seminar? You will have to watch the movie to see. However, the most important takeaway from the movie is how we as adults can sometimes put too much emphasis on career. Also how that can stifle a child’s view on life and what it means to have purpose. The film’s Christmas release was in perfect timing with New Year’s resolutions.
New Year’s resolutions are taboo because there is a connotation that our current self is somehow wrong. It always comes with a need to fix, or perfect. Why? There will always be things we want to accomplish, it is human nature. However, those goals and dreams mean nothing if there is not a true “why.” Uncovering the why gives the incentive to follow through. The new year is not the time to become someone unrecognizable. Instead, how can one make their current self fit into their 2021 vision? This starts with shifting the focus onto positivity. A goal cannot be attained if it was created in misery. Otherwise, 12 months have been spent harping on something that was hated to begin with. Time is wasted and now 2022 begins the same cycle all over again. It is vital to also find the good in the things that may need improvement.
An example of this is weight loss. It is the primary resolution and a billion dollar industry. Everybody wants to lose a few pounds once the new year begins. The difference between the ones that do and don’t is not simply laziness. It’s because the ones that succeed have discovered the why. “To be skinny” isn’t always enough of a goal. The reality is, even if you reach it, the empty feeling that existed before will still be there. Alternatively, maybe the want to be skinny is due to a lack of confidence. Or to have a better quality of life. Now the realization sets in that weight loss may not even be the real goal to begin with. The sad thing is, most of us don’t even get to that point because we haven’t even stopped to ask ourselves why. This, along with poor planning, is why resolutions fail.
These ideals tie in perfectly with the film because we experience how Joe and 22 realized their own visions. Maybe Joe’s spark was actually teaching music, not playing professionally. That does not take away his passion for the latter. Joe is not a failure because he chose not to make money doing something he loved. 22 discovered they found joy in the little things, like walking and eating. Without a distinct career or passion, they still had a spark. Whatever we find our purpose in is OK. It’s OK if that purpose evolves or completely changes over time. As someone who has struggled with how/if my initial spark exists with who I am today, Soul was the perfect way to bridge the gap. It helped me determine what I wanted to take into 2021. It also gave me space to be able to pass that knowledge along to someone else.
In conclusion, Soul is a great movie. Available on Disney+, it is suitable for all ages. Everyone can take something from the film. Soul is a great way to teach children about finding purpose within. It teaches self esteem and self worth in a palatable, non preachy, way. It takes the focus off of only being as important as how you earn a living. Humans are so much more important than work and money and Soul showcases that excellently. Use Soul as an example of how to create a New Year’s resolution. Astrologists are saying that 2021 is the year of manifestation. The concept that whatever we put energy towards, good or bad, will set a benchmark for the year. Find the excitement in the small things and the giant milestones that will happen throughout the year. Perhaps that’s the only way to get over the catastrophe that was 2020.