When I play baseball, there are times when I am in such a great groove pitching that everything seems to slow down, background noise and visuals disappear, and playing the game becomes easy. In For Love of the Game, pitcher Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner) calls it clearing the mechanism. Others describe it as being “in the zone.” While I never consciously cleared the mechanism, the depiction is very close to what I have experienced. Most recently, it happened a couple years ago when I pitched a two-hit, ten-strikeout, zero-walk shutout. After the game, a friend on the other team said “if that one play at first base had been called correctly, we might have scored on you,” to which I replied apologetically “you weren’t going to score tonight.” The memory of that game was evoked while watching Pixar’s newest film Soul, when Soul describes and displays its version of clearing the mechanism.
(I know what you are thinking – “aren’t you too old to play baseball?” or more likely “psshhhhh.” Well, I’m still several years younger than Jamie Moyer was when he finally retired. Also, psshhhhh.)
Soul is not a baseball movie. It’s not even a sports movie. But its depiction of the mechanism made this movie relatable to me in a way I never expected. The film is about the afterlife, and the mechanism (or being in the zone) while doing something you love is portrayed as a higher plane of existence that overlaps the afterlife. It made me smile in a way that this entire wretched year almost made me forget was possible. Of course, because this is the year 2020, Godmothered took a giant crap all over that smile. But, I am getting ahead of myself. First, let’s see what my son thought of Soul.
What is the movie Soul about?
It’s about a guy who is about to have a big concert thing and he…I can’t remember how he got to the soul place, but he kept trying to jump in the big hole that leads to Earth.
So many questions about what you just said. Let’s start with what is the soul place?
It’s where a bunch of people have to earn their spark as little tiny glowy people. Once they get their spark, they get their Earth badge, and they jump into the hole to Earth and become a person.
Do you know what a soul is?
Yeah. A soul is like a glowy thing that looks like a person that is inside of you, that looks like a replica of you. It’s in this weird place in space where there are a million souls that have to earn their spark. And there a bunch of hosts – one is named Terry and three are named Jerry – and there is a stage room where people get called up and they go to the Earth hole-thing.
Wait, hold on. I have more questions. If the soul is inside of you, how is it also in a weird place? And, what is the weird place?
Well, first of all, the soul isn’t in that weird place all the time. When you are a human, your soul is in your body and when your soul is out of you, it’s in that weird place? Second of all, I don’t know what that weird place is called.
Neither do I. So, when the soul is not inside of a human, is the human dead?
Well, it’s not necessarily dead, it’s just unconscious.
Sounds like it is dead to me.
No, he wasn’t dead when Terry took his soul out of his body. When Terry took that concert guy’s soul out, he laid in that place, but when he woke up, he was in that same exact place at the same exact age. That’s why I think he was just unconscious.
Ok. What was the concert guy’s name?
I forgot *rubbing his temples*. I know they said it in the movie.
I can’t remember it either. Funny that you remember Terry, but not the main character.
*Laughing in agreement*
Looking it up – it is Joe Gardner.
Oh yeah *giggling*
So, how does Joe become unconscious, making his soul leave his body.
Because Terry snuck into the world and found Joe…
No, no, no. The first time Joe goes unconscious.
Oh, I don’t know. I have no idea about the first time, but I’m going to tell you it was not Terry.
I remember – Joe fell down a manhole into the sewer.
Oooohhhh yeah. That sewer is where the soul place is. Now I remember.
Are you saying the weird place is a sewer?
Yes. Because it is a sewer.
What was the first thing that was happening when you see Joe’s soul for the first time?
He was in this long place and there was like one little bridge and on the other side was a really bright light and that really bright light was death.
I think they called it the Great Beyond.
Well they did, but, still, once you touch that you’re dead.
You don’t think you’re already dead when you are on that bridge?
No. Because if he is running around he still has a soul.
This is my favorite discussion about the afterlife, ever. Do you think this is what happens you die?
What happens when you die?
When the movie shows Joe falling to his death in the sewer, his soul is going toward the bright light, which many people believe is heaven. Do you think this movie is a good idea about what happens after you die?
Yes. When you die.
Is this what you think happens in real life?
No, not in real life. Get it? Not in real life? Bu-dun-ch. That was a good one.
Moving on. Why didn’t Joe go into the bright light?
Because he didn’t want to die because he loves to play and music and had a concert in front him. If he died before that, he couldn’t do the concert.
Why did he want to do the concert so bad?
Because he loves, loves music!
That seems like a really good reason to want to keep living. So, in the weird, sewer place, there are also souls who haven’t been born yet?
No. Wait? What? I don’t get it.
The millions of little tiny glowy souls you mentioned before sound like people who haven’t been born yet and that’s why they have to earn their Earth patch.
No. That’s not what I’m saying.
Then, who are they?
They are souls that were born a millisecond ago.
Right. New souls. So new people.
So, my question is, if the weird place is where new souls are, how can Joe also be there?
Because he fell through the sewer that leads to that weird place.
Interesting. Did you like the movie?
What was your favorite part besides the end of the movie?
I liked when Joe was a cat.
I’m not even going to ask about that. How about a rating for this movie? Do you think people should ask for any money back?
If it costs twenty dollars, I say it is worth twenty dollars because it has a great story that makes sense and it’s good.