Weekly Blog January 24th, 2021: Soul

Hello Internet!

I hope all of you are doing well and staying healthy! This week marks the four year anniversary of me writing and publishing pieces here on WordPress. For everyone who has been reading my stuff for that long, thank you for sticking with me. For everyone else, I’m glad you’ve found me and continue to read my stuff. I appreciate all my readers both new and old as I grow this positive and creative space on the internet. Thanks again all. Before I get too far and start talking about this week’s Weekly Blog topic, I want to quickly talk about the pieces I published this past week. Last Sunday, I kicked off the fifth year of Allen_The_Writer with a Weekly Blog all about “Progress and Positivity.” This year instead of focusing on New Year Resolutions and set goals, I’m taking inspiration from the YouTube channel CPG Grey and using the idea of themes to better my year. I’m choosing to focus on the Year of Progress and Positivity. To learn more about themes and what my themes mean, check out the Weekly Blog and hopefully you’ll decide a yearly theme for yourself as well. Then on Wednesday, I published a Poem titled “Volatile.” This is a Poem all about stresses and how sometimes I feel so compacted by all of life’s stresses. The pressure keeps me together when I feel like falling apart. On Friday, I published a Writing Prompt Piece titled “Royal Guardian.” This Writing Prompt Piece is all about a young prince attending a royal banquet. Normally he is always protected by a guardian with a deep voice and heavy armor. However while at the banquet he learns that his royal guardian is more than he originally thought. Lastly, on Saturday I introduced a new form of monthly content I’m experimenting with. I put out my first Character Creation focused on Mara Dawnpelt. One of my characters from my Dungeons and Dragons inspired series which I am breaking down into her characteristics, aspirations, and abilities. I highly recommend checking out all those pieces if you haven’t already, but particularly the Character Creation. It’s something new I’m trying out and want to know what you all think about it. Do you like it? Do you think there are things I can do to improve it? Let me know in the comments down below.

Now that we’ve talked about all this past week’s published pieces, I want to talk about a wonderful movie I’ve watched recently which is Disney/Pixar’s Soul. This is a fantastic movie which I had a very strong reaction to, so I thought why not write about it and let you all know how I felt. First I should say that I highly recommend that you watch this movie and that I’m going to spoil a lot of stuff. So if you want to avoid spoilers, go watch it first and then come back to the Blog. It’s on Disney+ (not sponsored) and I cannot sing this movie’s praises enough. Starting at a technical level, the animation and the music are both fantastic. Pixar is always at the top of animation, but Soul takes it to another level. The almost photo realistic depictions of New York next to the more surreal world of the Great Beyond both look fantastic. Plus the character designs of the souls and the beings in the Great Beginning are both strange and whimsical. This movie also focuses on music as a theme accompanied by a strong score and soundtrack. Pixar usually has good music but it’s something in the background. This movie gives it a spotlight and it shines beautifully.

The story of soul focuses on a man named Joe Gardner who is a Music Teacher who wants to be a professional Jazz Musician. He is a man who hops from gig to gig wanting to make it big but has fallen short. Well his big break comes and he gets a chance to play a big gig with a well known Jazz Singer. He is so excited that he dances through the streets of New York without caution and eventually falls down a pothole. This kicks off the plot of the movie as Joe shows up on a conveyor belt leading to the Great Beyond. However, Joe is not ready to die. He runs away and ends up in The Great Before where he gets paired up with a soul named 22. This soul is a soul that has never been born and wants knowing to do with living on Earth. 22 is extremely cynical and sees life as not worth living.  She has been through dozens of mentors, including Abraham Lincoln, Copernicus, and Mother Theresea, but none have convinced her otherwise. 22 sees Joe’s “boring” life and is confused why he wants to go back to it so she agrees to help him. Through some soul shenanigans, they both end up on Earth but 22 falls into Joe’s body and Joe ends up falling into a Cat’s body. They then must figure out a way to get their souls back in the right places while also getting Joe prepared for his big gig. This whole process lets 22 see what human life is really like and explore all the aspects of Joe’s life. This experience ends up giving 22 her “spark” which is her life’s inspiration. Joe believes that the spark of music and piano is his life’s purpose but those aren’t necessarily the same. He learns that his spark is just one small bit of what makes him, him and that he ultimately has to choose what he wants to do with his life. Just because he is talented at playing Jazz Piano does not mean that he is truly meant to do that in his life. In the end Joe does end up playing the gig, but he realizes that the experience isn’t fulfilling in the way he thinks it will be. It makes him question his purpose. Joe ends up returning to The Great Beginning to help 22 and she gets to go to Earth to live her life with the spark she found when she was inside Joe’s body. Joe’s ending is a little bit more ambiguous. Is he going to continue to be a music teacher or is he going to play gig after gig as a Jazz musician or is he going to take another path? The movie doesn’t tell us. It just ends.

Purpose. Spark. Inspiration. The meaning of life. All of this is looked at through the lens of Joe’s life in this animated children’s movie. It’s odd because this movie is so, so deep and it baffles me that some people might just write this movie off as a children’s movie. There’s even a quote in the movie where Joe asks his star student about inspiration and she replies that she’s only twelve. Even in my mid-twenties this move left me confused. It’s a movie that made me cry and cheer and inspired and hollow. It’s a movie that kind of destroyed me on an emotional level. I think the reason that this movie hit me so hard is because of where I am in my life. After a year like 2020 where the whole world seemed to be on fire, I find myself at a sort of crossroads. I am unemployed applying for job after job without much success. I’m dealing with feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. I feel uninspired, lost, and unsure of what comes next. Ever since I graduated college almost five years ago, I’ve failed to launch a career and get my life going in the right direction. Not knowing how I’m going to spend my life made me connect with this movie and the feelings it touched on. One line that really sucker punched me came from a moment when Joe is talking to his mother about doing this gig. He tells her, “I’m just afraid that if I died today, that my life would have amounted to nothing.” That’s how I feel. I feel like I haven’t found that purpose, that spark, that thing that i’m really good at. Just like 22, I feel like I’m missing my spark and my inspiration.

At the end of the movie, Joe talks to 22 and she relays her fears for life to him. She repeats things like that she’s afraid that she’ll never have her spark and that she has no purpose. She’s afraid to live because she doesn’t know if she’ll be good at it or if she’s even good enough.  That’s a lot to take in especially for a kid’s movie. However, Soul doesn’t end on such a depressing note. It finishes with glimmers of hope and joy. Joe convinces 22 that she does have a spark and that she’s pretty good at “jazzing” or just going with the flow and speaking her mind. Joe also tells her that her spark isn’t everything. It’s just a small bit of her and that she still has to find her purpose on Earth. She can’t be afraid of living before she’s even given it a chance. Joe returns to his body and even though his path is uncertain, he is excited to see where his life will go and he’s ready to appreciate every moment of his life going forward. I wish I could be as enthusiastic as Joe. I wish I could focus on the wonderful opportunities life might hold rather than the fear of not knowing what might happen. I want to be optimistic, but often I feel sparkless and worried if I’m ever going to find my purpose in life.

So yeah, that’s Disney/Pixar’s Soul. Again, it’s a fantastic movie filled with incredible characters, settings, music, and story. I highly recommend you watch it or rewatch it. Just make sure you have a box of tissues on stand by, which is really a standard thing for Pixar movies. As for me, I’m going to be fine. This movie did inspire me as well as bring a lot of feelings to the surface. It’s a movie which I think would have been truly fantastic on the big screen but I’m glad that I watched it at home so I could just sit on the couch by myself for thirty minutes afterwards just sitting with my thoughts. Now I better wrap up before I start crying again.

Thank you all for reading that Weekly Blog. Hopefully you enjoyed it and liked hearing my thoughts about Soul. If you liked it, feel free to give it a Like! You can also leave a comment down below talking about your thoughts on the movie. Or you can leave a comment talking about your spark, inspiration, or purpose and how you found out what those things are. I’m honestly okay with a giant group hug down in the comments. Maybe the things I talked about including the feelings of uncertainty or being lost, don’t fret it too much. Deep down I do believe that we all have a purpose to be here on Earth and we will find that spark one day. Just keep on holding out hope and wishing for better things to come. It will happen. I’m sure of it. If you really liked this Weekly Blog, I highly recommend checking out the other pieces I’ve written starting with the pieces I talked about early in the Blog which I published this week. You can also Follow me here on WordPress and join the positive and creative community I’m trying to build on the internet. I’m a huge fan of all my readers and I appreciate all of their love and support. It’s the reason that I’m still writing and publishing things four years after I started.

Thank you again for reading and I hope you have a wonderful week!

-Allen_The_Writer


Header Photo Credit to Disney Movies
https://movies.disney.com/soul

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