Farewell, 2020 + Pixar’s Soul

Assalamualaikum wbt.

[WARNING: Spoilers for Pixar’s Soul]

I spent the last day of 2020 watching Pixar’s latest film, Soul. I feel like I wasn’t as deeply moved by it as other people. The reviews were so good and people were talking about how they were weeping and contemplating their life decisions, that at the end of the movie I was thinking, “Is that it?”. I prefer 3 Idiots instead, which is one of my favourite movies of all time, if not my absolute favourite. But I was impressed at the amount of representation of people of colour, in normal everyday spaces like classrooms and grocery stores – something severely lacking in Western films.

However, I do appreciate it’s central message very much – about how you shouldn’t rigidly limit your life to one single purpose, but you have to appreciate the beauty of just living. Joe Gardner is a struggling middle-aged music school teacher desperately waiting for his big break. He eats, breathes, and lives jazz – he makes sure everyone he meets knows that he was born to play jazz. But thanks to an unborn soul called 22, by the end of the movie, he realizes that jazz shouldn’t be his sole purpose in life. He now appreciates the beauty in everyday mundane things, like walking and sky-watching.

It’s an incredible lesson to be conveyed, especially to people like me who are obsessed with their passion or calling.

I literally tweeted this in mid-October.

Someone taking a certain university course: You wouldn’t believe some students [of my course]. they literally don’t have lives outside [this industry]. their whole personality is [this industry].

Me, whose whole personality is my industry: …… Uhhh ……

Well some of us are in love + practically married to our work, Samantha!!!! ((But really though can you imagine me without Mass Comm / Media / Communications / Publicity / Marketing… who would I even be………..????))”

Yes, I too, am a lot like Joe Gardner (though hopefully not as bad). For most people who know me, I feel like my name is almost synonymous with media, marketing, and content creation. Because yes, I do make sure everyone I talk to knows it – that this is my calling, this is what I was born to do. The author of this blog post also echoes similar thoughts as me, recalling how she used to not have a personality outside of yoga. In a job interview earlier this year, I was asked if I have any hobbies outside of marketing and etc. My mind actually went blank for a moment. “I like watching movies… (EVERYONE likes watching movies, Arifah! You should’ve said analyzing movies) and blogging… (er, that’s kind of media related) and travelling (finally an acceptable one!)”.

The interviewer put me on the spot. But hey, I do have other hobbies that would have been weird to say, okay… like creating nice houses in The Sims. Or listening to chill music while watching planet patterns from my nightlight spin around my room.

But yeah, I feel like most of my favourite things go back to media / marketing somehow. It actually hit me when I realized that someone I know who has MUCH more industrial experience than me seemed to have such diverse interests, ranging from baking to knitting to parenting. But in 2020 I discovered a lot of everyday interests that… surprise surprise, have nothing to do with my “calling”. I’ve been learned so many new recipes lately, taking a more serious interest in fitness and exercise, and I’m even a new plant mother of 2 succulents and 1 cactus!

It’s true – there is so much more to life than just one self-defined purpose. And anyways, as Muslims we were put on this Earth for two reasons. To be both khalifah and abid.

Despite everything that’s happened in 2020, I hope we’ve learned to not take things for granted, to identify our priorities in life, to love a little harder, to find creative and innovative ways to do regular things, to show kindness and empathy, to have consideration for others, and to appreciate and continue doing things despite different or limiting circumstances.

In 2021, I hope we remember to live. Embrace our God-given life to the fullest, no matter what happens. To wake up each day with meaningful purpose, to romanticise simple everyday things like bus rides and homemade tea and sunsets, and to go to bed feeling content thanks to every blessing and despite every challenge.

Here’s to a new chapter of our lives! Bismillahirrahmaanirrahim.

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Creating contentment.

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