Friday night is always movie night at my house, hence the lack of a post from yesterday. Here is a movie that touched me in a particularly unique way.

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Sometimes you just need to be sad.

I just finished watching the Disney/Pixar movie Inside Out. Several people in the counseling program I am part of told me it was a good “counseling movie,” and I suppose it was on some levels. The role and function of memories in a person’s life is explored in pretty fascinating detail in the film, and there is a touching ode to imagination and letting go of one’s childhood fantasies. The structure of the mind is touched on in a Disney-ish way, which is perfect for children looking for entertainment and adults looking to over-analyze symbolism in animated movies.

inside outIt is the interplay of emotions, however, that makes Inside Out so special, particularly the relationship between joy and sadness. Without spoiling elements of the movie, the perception of how these two emotions function together is played to perfection. No one wants to be around sadness. We all want joy and happiness and good feelings. The truth is, though, sadness has just as much a place on the emotional spectrum as the lighter emotions do. Without it, our human experience is incomplete.

The way sadness is treated in the film is so indicative of how people treat it every day. It is suppressed, shoved to the side, discouraged. Without its release, however, we stifle a release point, giving rise to other negative emotions, such as anger and fear. These are the ingredients for at least a depressive episode, if not full-blown depression itself. Sometimes we need to be sad, to cry, to rant, to break down. We’ve all been so conditioned toward positivity, though, that many of us can’t handle seeing the intensity of sadness, so we push it away. In the process, we push people away, people who really need someone.

I will admit that as a 41-year-old grown man, I felt tears well up in my eyes as I watched Inside Out. I thought of all the times people told me to just “get over it.” To be more positive, more happy, more not sad. Sometimes they were right. Other times, though, I needed to experience what I was going through on a deep, personal level. When that was misunderstood, I only felt worse.

Not everyone will come away with the same take I did on Inside Out. I would even hazard a guess that some people won’t get it at all. For me, though, it touched a part of me I have been struggling to explain for quite some time. And that definitely did not make me sad.
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