How to live in the great 'In Between' - Lessons from Pixar's Soul

While the question looming over the film might seem obvious - "What is the meaning of life?" - there were many other lessons I grasped from the movie.

How to live in the great 'In Between' - Lessons from Pixar's Soul
Is all this living really worth dying for? - Twenty Two

Soul is Pixar at its best, weaving in poignant life stories with incredible animation.

While the question looming over the film might seem obvious - "What is the meaning of life?" - there were many other lessons I grasped from the movie.

The main characters from the film are Joe Gardner, aspiring jazz musician who meets an untimely death and Twenty Two, a 'life cynic' who doesn't think life is worth living. It is set in the present, as well as the Great Beyond - the afterlife or the place you go when you die - and also the Great Before - AKA You Seminar where souls get mentored by famous dead people before skydiving to earth.

Joe wants to find meaning in his life, to live out his passion passion and was determined to fulfil his purpose playing jazz and being one of the greats. Twenty Two, at the polar opposite end, is perfectly content with staying put.

Themes of purpose, spirituality, work, joy, contentment are scattered throughout the film. It speaks to the everyday people, you and I, who work ordinary lives in search for an extraordinary purpose.

What do we learn from this movie about how to live?

The Great In-Between

While the movie eludes to spiritual and eternal truths, it doesn't seem to make them the real focus. The real lesson is how to live in the present, in the Great In-Between.

One of the best scenes in the movie is the barbershop scene. The animation was beautiful, equally matched by the characters in the shop. Here we are introduced to Dez, the barber. Dez is an artist, a master at his craft - which is being a barber. I don't know what you think of this profession, but it really is hard to do well.

In the middle of Twenty Two talking about being stuck, Dez said he had dreams to be a veterinarian. Twenty Two was surprised as she thought he would have had the spark for barbering.

"You were born to be a barber, weren't you?", asked Twenty Two.

Dez revealed that the reason he isn't a vet was because real life got in the way. Between coming out of the Navy and his daughter getting sick, he had to make a life choice. Instead of being unhappy with his choice, he is fulfilled being a barber. He loves his job. He loves meeting people who come to the barbershop.

This is instructive - you decide to be passionate in what you do. You choose to be passion-driven, rather than driven to find your passion.

I love it.

This is the perfect illustration to what we ought to aim for in the Great In-Between. To make the choice to put passion in what we do, not to find our passion.

Dez, who didn't end up doing what he loved, found love in doing what he's doing. And mastering his craft, seeing how many people show up in his barbershop!

There were plenty of other good questions raised in the film. Here's a list of other key lessons I picked up.

  • Your passion may not be your purpose.  
  • Achievement is overrated.
  • Be present at every station.
  • Don't be obsessed and consumed by your goals.
  • Lean in on your gifts and talents. Share it with the world.
  • A blink of an eye and your gone.
  • Seek joy. Live life.
  • The best part of life is living.

How would I answer the question "What is the meaning of life?" To me, as a man of faith, I believe it is to live purposefully and presently as you prepare for eternity.  

Did you enjoy the movie? What else did you learn from it Share your thoughts with me on Twitter.