"Watching their own epiphanies prompted me to have many of my own"Pixar

“You’re never too old for Disney,” is a phrase that I never needed convincing of. Having loved Disney since my youth, the awe and amazement stimulated by these films remain timeless. But, if there was one film that definitely captures that Disney is not exclusive to children, it would have to be Disney’s Soul.

The film grapples with existential dread through the character resembling a soul, called Soul 22. But it also explores existential excitement through the protagonist, Joe Gardner. I found that both Joe and Soul 22, represented different parts of my brain, with Joe being obsessed with pursuing a dream on one side and Soul 22’s dread and fear to embrace and live life on the other. Honestly, in my table tennis match of thoughts at 3 AM, the winner is always changing. But these two conflicting characters end up cultivating the purest bond on earth while they learn valuable, indelible lessons from one another. Watching their own epiphanies prompted me to have many of my own.

“My blessings are proof that God believes in me”

The movie encapsulates the strong struggle that we often experience whilst navigating life, that struggle of desperately seeking a “spark” or a “passion” to validate and attribute meaning to our existence. For the first part of the movie, you’re almost convinced that the creators endorse this view, using the clever analogy of a “You Seminar” and “The Hall of everything” to help the characters find their passion and purpose to activate their “earth pass”. But in the wise words of the character Jerry – “You humans with your passions and your purposes….so basic”. The movie debunks this myth completely. It’s revealed that what really grants us our earth pass is when we become ready to live. And that decision lies completely in our power. Joe inadvertently introduces Soul 22 to many things that we consider ordinary in life – eating pizza, getting a haircut, going for a walk. But it is through these seemingly small experiences that Joe, Soul 22, and, most importantly me, learn that the value of life is found in these subtle, passing moments.

“I automatically romanticise every little moment that happens”

If anything, this animation makes me question if Disney is for kids. Being confronted with questions like, “What is your purpose?” should be rated R. Admittedly, my faith did act as my refuge during this film. When being challenged with invasive questions like “What is your purpose?” and “What makes you good enough to live?”, I clung to the anchor of faith. Faith keeps me grounded with the belief that I was created to please my God through worship and acts of kindness. So, I strive to make this my core ambition in life. Though my conviction in my purpose isn’t always smooth sailing, I have learnt to develop a habit of being grateful and mindful of all my blessings. My blessings are proof that God believes in me. God believes that I have the ability to nurture, fulfil and maximise my blessings to their full potential.

Speaking of blessings, being situated at a hill college is certainly one of them. Long walks to lectures and libraries have become my norm, but this is something that I never complain about. In fact, it is one thing I am incredibly grateful for. It is one of the things I boast about when prospective students eagerly ask me what it’s like to be at a hill college. These walks grant me the luxury to be attentive to and appreciate all the little changes around me. Which tree is the moon hidden behind today? What painting does the sky have on display? Are the winds at war with each other? Or are they at peace?


Mountain View

Reading in the Margins

The film highlights that the most valuable way to sustain yourself in life is to be able to find magic in the ordinary. Having been situated in a pandemic for over a year now has forced me to sit, acknowledge and be grateful for the present. I used to be so preoccupied with the future that I didn’t realise that my present time is a privilege. I never know when it will be my last time doing a certain activity that I love. Pre-pandemic me would never have thought that I’d have to give up the simple joy of going to the park for some time. So now when I do visit, I make sure to soak up every second on the swing and stroll a little more slowly past the trees. Now, I automatically romanticise every little moment that happens in my life because I don’t want the shadow of the future to rob the light of the present. I pretend that every moment is momentous and life-changing. I celebrate every win- my favourite spot in the library is free? I managed to get an item that I wanted for ages on sale? I finally met up with a friend that I haven’t seen in so long because of our “adult schedules”. I celebrate it all.

It has now passed the one-year mark since Soul was released, and I truly believe it is one that should be commemorated each year. Forever. So, next time I’m having an existential crisis, I’ll remember to rewatch Soul. A film where I can connect and be comforted. A film where I can see a fragment of myself. My thoughts, theories and worries are intricately conceptualised and beautifully animated.