That is not the title of my entry. The title of this entry is actually a spoiler. I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t that the point of a title?
Mostly that’s true, but not when the subject is about a movie.
Before I go any further, if you have not seen Pixar’s “Inside Out” and want to without knowing a few particulars, stop here. Except for one thing. If you want to watch it with young children, I recommend they not be younger than 7. It’s not scary or anything, but a few things happen — especially emotionally — that younger children may have a difficult time processing. Either that, or watch it first to decide whether or not they can handle it.
End of disclaimer.
Have you ever watched a movie so profound it sticks with you, sometimes for days or even weeks?
“Inside Out” was one such movie for me. I watched it on Amazon Prime with my son a few weekends ago, and I cried through most of it. Yep. Bawled my eyes out.
The story takes place inside the mind of a little girl named Riley. At Headquarters are Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger and Fear. Each one has their own purposes. Joy is obvious. Disgust prevents Riley from being poisoned, such as eating broccoli. Fear prevents Riley from getting hurt. Anger makes sure Riley is treated fairly. The only emotion Joy sees as having no purpose within Riley is Sadness. After all, who likes to be sad?
Sadness keeps trying to take control of Riley (for which no one knows why at first, not even Sadness), and consequently, Joy and Sadness are thrown out of Headquarters, leaving Riley with feeling only Anger, Fear and Disgust. All this happens at the same time Riley’s family is forced to move.
I won’t get into what all befalls Joy and Sadness as they attempt to return to Headquarters (and here come the spoilers), other than to say Riley ends up feeling nothing. In that desperate moment, Joy discovers that one of Riley’s most happy moments started out as one of her saddest. Joy realizes that sometimes it’s Sadness who leads Riley to experiencing Joy. At times, Sadness can be more important than any other emotion — that it’s not only okay to be sad, it’s necessary. It both inspires us to act, and when others see our sadness, they surround us with compassion and understanding.
I follow a Facebook page called “Friends of Phoebe.” It’s written by a mother of two children. The youngest is a 5-year-old girl with Leukemia. The page is the family’s journey as she goes through chemo, and all the other challenges that comes with fighting the disease. It’s heart-wrenching at times.
During one particularly rough day, the mother was frustrated with her and her daughter’s frustration, anger and sadness. I responded this way (a few days before I even saw the Pixar movie):
“And that’s okay. We’re not supposed to be happy all the time, even in the best of circumstances. Strength can be found in our tears as well as our smiles. Just know that even during the dark days, we’re all rooting for you, even as we cry with you.”
God didn’t give us so-called negative emotions such as grief, frustration and anger to torture us. He gave them to us, because they often spur us to do not only great things, but necessary things.
I’ll use Jesus himself as an example.
The shortest verse in the Bible is “Jesus wept.” He had just learned that his friend, Lazarus had died. And because of that grief, he brought Lazarus from the dead (too bad we can’t do the same).
Jesus experienced frustration, often because of the thickheadedness of his own disciples, the Pharisees and people in general. That frustration forced him to escape to be with himself and pray for renewal. Something we need — probably more than we’re willing to admit.
Anger drove Jesus to bring justice to the Temple. He saw how people had turned his Father’s house into a marketplace. He made himself a whip, drove out all animals, scattered coins, turned over tables, and chased out the money-changers.
As with Jesus’ life, and the point of “Inside Out,” we need to embrace Sadness, Frustration and Anger (and a slew of others), because without them, we may never experience real Joy, and Solace (and a slew of others).
We end up feeling nothing, and that’s worse than any “negative” emotion we can name.
So what is the title of this entry?
The Importance of Sadness.