Soul: The Daily Purpose

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”- a well meaning question, asked with good intentions for the most part. So well meaning, it does a phenomenal job of concealing itself as the villain in our lives, lurking in the shadows of the mind, following us from the moment it’s asked. It plays itself over and over like a stuck record, begging us to make sense of its magnitude.
As children, such a question might not carry the weight it does from the moment we’re on the cusp of adulthood and are faced with the choice of university or work as a means to independence. And so begins the obsession with career-centric living, where the purpose of our lives is the work we do, how we ascend through the uphill of our 20s while trying to survive, let alone thrive.

I recently managed to sit down for long enough to watch Disney-Pixar’s latest release, Soul, a beautifully animated story tackling the themes of life, purpose and the afterlife. I already knew it was going to be a good watch, based off the positive reviews from trusted cinephiles, but I still didn’t expect it to hit me as deeply as it did. The film tells the story of a middle-aged man who ultimately learns that life is a series of moments and that the purpose is to simply be present during those moments- not some grand hope of who he can become or the grandeur of his music career. Apart from the beautifully accurate representation of facial features and cultural quirks of the Black characters- details we’ve been deprived of since forever, what I appreciated was the feel good energy, it was lovely to see Black characters as dynamic and bright, without all the deep pain that accompanies our stories when told by Hollywood. In true Disney-Pixar form, the film was slightly predictable, but this didn’t take anything away from the baseline story- the elements of surprise and moments of comedic relief were executed beautifully in the sub-plot, through the supporting soul counsellors, all named Jerry.

We’re often so caught up in the web of our past and anxiety about a future we’re not even promised, that it becomes so difficult to simply breathe and take stock of where we are right now- the only place and time that actually matters.
The film helped me overcome a rut I found myself in over what my career was shaping out to be compared to what I thought I’d be when I grew up and all the disappointment I felt over not having achieved certain goals yet. These little disappointments had built up into an overarching feeling of failure, clouding any other progress I had made. What this story reminded me of was a deep need to recognise the present moment as the true purpose of life, not who I could be tomorrow, not how much money I’m earning or the titles I want to hold. Because if we have all those things, but fail to appreciate and love the present moment, we resign ourselves to a life of chasing distant dreams, instead of living in the tangible now.

The soul is fed every time we allow ourselves to let go of all the heavy unnecessary, in exchange for a moment of fluorescent inspiration- our daily purpose.

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Writer, photographer and coffee enthusiast, weaving worlds into existence, one story at a time | Pronouns: They/Them

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Noma Ntshingila

Writer, photographer and coffee enthusiast, weaving worlds into existence, one story at a time | Pronouns: They/Them