My sister was having a conversation on what she wanted to do in life. She’s entering the nursing track in college, but she’s having second thoughts.

My 12-year-old brother responded to her concerns: “You haven’t found your spark.”

His words were in reference to Soul, a new movie streaming on Disney+ with Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey voicing the main two characters, Joe Gardner and 22.

I have seen a lot of criticism about Soul. The main critique is Disney’s history at Black and Indigenous characters not remaining human for most or a good portion of the movie. Another critique I saw was that it felt as if Joe Gardner, Black, had to learn how to truly experience life from a character, 22, who, though is a soul who was never born into a human, “felt” like a middle-aged White woman.

My view is that we can acknowledge the veracity of these critiques, certainly the first critique, while simultaneously appreciating Soul for what it is.

I watched Soul with my family: my parents and four of my siblings. All of us, from the youngest, 12, to the oldest walked away with something.

For me, Soul was an exploration on the meaning of life. We went on a journey with Joe Gardner who seems as if he has lost his spark for living and is merely existing. One of the major takeaways from the movie was the difference between a “spark” and a “purpose.” Joe, like many of us, assumed the two were the same thing, but a “spark” is the thing that makes you experience the simple feeling of being alive, the thing that makes you happy for being alive.

Some of us go through life, and we may find purpose, but do we have that “spark”? It is easy to merely exist in what you assume your purpose is instead of actually experience. In some ways, Soul causes you, or at least caused my family, to reevaluate our lives. Am I truly happy doing this thing? Am I just existing or am I experiencing?

None of the members of my family walked into the movie with preconceived notions. We hadn’t read the critiques and the reviews. We simply sat down and watched and afterward, the lowest rating was a 9.5 out of 10. 

Soul was released at the end of 2020, a trying year for people all over the planet earth. Loved ones have died, people are undergoing financial stress, poverty and homelessness and a global pandemic caused everyone to socially distance. In mid-2020, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan urged the human family to go into our inner chambers and grow closer to our Creator. Take advantage of the stillness to form a connection to God.

Finding that stillness to be able to experience joy in life was what Soul was all about. I imagine that the message of Soul will be one I reflect on through the course of my life. The critiques of the movie are valid, but for me, so is the message.

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