Pixar’s Soul – Themes and Reflections

Rather than be specific, which I couldn’t be without re-watching the movie and taking notes, I’ll give you a summary of what happened and make comments along the way.

The main character is a part-time band teacher in a middle school. The movie opens with him getting promoted to full-time work. He immediately feels let down because he really wants to be a full-time jazz musician. I felt that as I’ve often had to compromise on ‘my dreams’ for ‘a job’. And that is part of the central theme of this movie, which I’ll come back to later.

However, as luck would have it, the main character gets a phone call from one of his former students who is in a band with a famous jazz musician and needs someone like him to fill in for someone who recently left the band. He ends up getting the gig, but dies shortly afterwards. The main character is now in the afterlife and very upset that ‘he finally got what he wanted and then it was taken away’ so he escapes to the ‘before life’ where souls are born. We have now seen a second aspect of the central theme, which is ‘for the fish to recognize water’, in other words, a misplaced search for something you already have.

In the ‘before life’, the main character is matched with a soul who hasn’t been able to graduate to earth because they are never satisfied (a kind of opposite twin of the main character). The rules are that you have to get a spark of something you like in the ‘before life’ before you’re allowed to go to earth. The characters mistakenly believe that this is their ‘purpose’ in life and without having it or achieving it, then their life is meaningless. The main character believes their life is meaningless despite people like his students telling them they helped improve their lives. I felt that.

The soul’s name is 22, which is the day of my birthday. I took this personally. 22 was never satisfied with anything. Nothing excited him. He had seen everything and tried everything and nothing moved the needle for him (or her). However, along the way, after being mentored by all of the great minds in history, 22 had become very intelligent, but not necessarily wise (intelligence applied). I felt that too because I’ve often spent a lot of time learning, but never really finding what I want to do in life.

Eventually they figure out a way to escape to earth where the new soul learns about things on earth and realizes…I’m not quite sure….something about ‘living itself’ or ‘life itself’ or ‘the act of learning how to live’ is that soul’s spark. They like to learn, not necessarily do. And once learned, they like to tell other people about what they’ve learned, but not necessarily as a teacher, but as an unintentional mentor. I felt that, too. The fact that I’m sharing this with you right now shows that I’m like that. It’s why I used to blog and vlog.

Eventually they learn, like the fish looking for the ocean, that each person doesn’t have a pre-destined purpose. The barber wanted to become a veterinarian, but he needed money sooner to pay for his daughter being born, so he became a barber. People who know him think he was born to be a barber because he is so good at it. The barber says he has found joy in being a barber despite it not being what he wanted. He realizes that he is still able to help people and in doing so, help himself. That is the theme of this movie – to realize that what you have and what you are doing is your purpose and you are having an impact. Realize what you do have and the impact you are making and think less about what you don’t. That thing you’re searching for…you already have it.

And that’s also the theme of books like The Alchemist who goes on a grand journey for treasure that ultimately leads him back to a treasure under the house where he started. Or the idea of “diamonds in your own backyard”, a famous sermon repeated over the years about a farmer who sold his farm to go looking for treasure only to later realize his farm had a natural abundance of diamonds.

Will Ready Player One Ever Become a Real Game?

Ready Player One Game

Ready Player One is a book written by Ernest Cline in 2011. On March 30, 2018, the feature length film will debut in movie theaters, but will there ever be a real virtual reality game like the one found in Ready Player One?

In the novel, The OASIS is a virtual universe, containing thousands of worlds. It functions both as an Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) and as a virtual society, complete with OASIS currency.

Imaging if Facebook came out with an Oculus-Enabled Facebook where people could meet, interact, learn, work, and play online instead of in real life (IRL). That’s basically what The OASIS is, but could it ever actually be made?

Simulation games from stock trading to The Sims have been popular ever since computers became popular, but so far Virtual Reality (VR) has been out of the reach of what technology could handle. But that may be changing.

Computers are getting smaller and faster every few years, but also there has been increased effort in understanding how the brain interprets visual information which is critical for how VR environments work.

Hardware and software is being developed that will allow intensely real-like environments that VR provides. The brain is incredibly adaptable and can easily assimilate into an environment that is initially foreign.

People have long been fascinated with existential ideas about what makes reality real and what it means to live inside a simulation. As we move closer to this new world of VR games and lifestyle, we’re about to find out.

Minecraft

One of the most popular computer games right now is Minecraft, a game that allows you to create, edit, and explore worlds by digging, transforming, and creating new things out of basic materials like wood, stone, and metal.

I started playing Minecraft on November 27, 2011. Two days later I noted, “I bought it specifically to dig holes and play with flowing water. The zombies really scare me so I started playing in creative mode. However, there is something not as fun when there are no limitations. And I was disappointed in whatever physics logic is used to control water flow. When water is released by digging next to it, it flows for a little while and then stops. It doesn’t flood wherever it can like real water would.”

Minecraft

Recently James Altucher wrote about the value of play in The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Mastery. He had recently interviewed Robert Greene, author of Mastery, on his podcast, The James Altucher Show.

On February 18, 2014 I was driving to work and heard The Foundation’s podcast, “Learning to Play and Boosting Productivity – with Charlie Hoehn”. In it, Charlie talked about how he discovered the power of play. One thing that struck me is how both James – in his post about Mastery – and Charlie, in his book Play It Away: A Workaholic’s Cure for Anxiety ask the reader to “List everything you enjoyed doing [before, when you were young]”.

When I first heard the question, I didn’t know the answer. All I could think about was how I really didn’t like playing traditional sports. But the second time I heard the question, it’s as if my mind was prepared for the answer and I started to think about all of the time I spent going out into the woods and creating spaces for myself. I called them “forts” because I didn’t have a better word for them at the time, but they were just private, open spaces where I could go to get away.

When I was young I created these types of spaces in urban environments under bridges, in my backyard, at summer camps I worked at, and at colleges I attended. In high school I watched The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain (1995) – a movie about a map maker who comes to measure a mountain – just to learn more about maps and mountains. It turns out it was all a ruse to get us to watch Hugh Grant fall in love for two hours.

Minecraft Cartoons

Back in January of 2012 I decided I’d try my hand at making some Minecraft comics and then point you to some that other people have done. I’m no Oatmeal or XKCD, but I wanted to share regardless. This was my first attempt.

Mapreneurs

Mapreneurs

Objectionable Physics

Objectionable Physics

Mineworld Problems

Mineworld Problems

Here’s some Minecraft cartoons that other people have done:

Minecraft Cartoon creepghastcartoon minetoons