There was one bit in Soul that got a big “NOPETY NOPE!” from me: ”Okay, first stop is the Excitable Pavilion. You four. In you go! You five, you’ll be aloof. And you two, why not.”
It’s played off for a joke, as in ha-ha kids these days, so aloof and detached and acting cool. But, in a movie that is working to create, and illustrate, so many fine things, what this creates is not fine at all. That we come into this world with a personality or traits already stamped upon our head, already fixed in place?
We are not fixed objects, set in stone. We are not destined to be a certain way. Nor are we only a certain way either! We contain multitudes, and we have the capacity to generate, and be, all sorts of ways.
A huge part of what self-cultivation is about is unlearning all that and recognizing our freedom and choice in creating who we want to be. It’s all about the art of being. And the art of the ongoing freedom to choose who we are being, in any moment, under any circumstances.
That’s what gives us power and passion and joy and connection and fulfillment and excitement and compassion and our humanity and oh-so-delicious peace of mind.
There’s plenty to take from soul. But in chasing a (what I consider to be) easy and cheezy joke, they put something out there that’s detrimental and perhaps* even downright harmful.
There are no permanent labels stamped onto our foreheads. Neither we, nor what we call our personality, are a carved statue.** We can always get in touch with our Great Before souls, touch our spark, and (re)create ourselves and who we are being.
* For a couple of reasons, beyond the way it can keep us from seeking that self-cultivation to alter those ways of behaviour and being that are counterproductive and possibly harmful in our own lives. For one, it can prevent us from treating others with dignity or possibility, writing people off as incorrigible or destined to be a thief (or whatever) and fostering stereotypes and biases. For two, relatedly, we can, inadvertently, hem people in and prevent their growth and exploration and their own self-cultivation. Especially with our kids, hemming them into only the narrow path of life that we see possible.
** As one of the greatest mentors once put it: “Luminous beings we are, not this crude matter.” Happy May the 4th Be With You!