When Sadness Saves The Day (Reflections On Life And The Movie “Inside Out”)

Cheering for Sadness when she saves the day

I saw the movie “Inside Out” and cheered for Sadness when she saved the day.

My daughter was very persuasive. I only watch a few movies each year. Animated ones are not usually on top of that list. But here we are, adults, clutching our tickets as we made our way to an empty theatre. In the middle of a week day, it seems the crowds have stayed away.

“Inside Out” is an animated movie about 11-year old Riley, whose life was turned upside down when her family moved from a town in Minnesota to the bustling city of San Francisco. The movie shows Riley’s interactions with her world, seen from the inside of her mind. It provides a window to what really goes on inside her head, her thoughts and how they link to her emotions and actions. The movie shows her five emotions – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, Fear – interact with each other and influence Riley’s actions. What an interesting, highly simplified but digestible view of the psychology of human behavior!

Immensely relatable, whether you’re a child, teen or adult! I found the movie enjoyable but deep enough to leave a lasting impression and sense of satisfaction. Even now, a few weeks later, I still recall the key scenes.

Riley lost Joy and Sadness during her tumultuous move from rural Minnesota to bustling San Francisco. That loss led to a communication breakdown, misunderstandings, and a growing resolve within Riley to recapture the life she left behind in Minnesota, to regain what she lost.

Riley was ready to abandon her family as she boarded a bus back to Minnesota. Then Sadness touched her memories, bringing back feelings of loss intertwined with strong memories of family love and support during those times. That’s when Sadness saved the day. Riley came to her senses, got off the bus, and made her way back home.

Sadness helped Riley develop resilience through the ups and downs of life

Sadness was often misunderstood and ‘pushed out’ of the circle of emotion-friends inside Riley’s mind. What was her purpose?  She just dragged Riley down! In that final bus scene, Joy and others finally understood that Sadness helped Riley develop resilience through the seasons of life, providing plenty of opportunities for relationships to grow strong, the support she needed for times of change and tumult, disappointments and defeat.

There is a bit of Joy’s attitude in us, isn’t it? Don’t we question the purpose of sorrow? Isn’t it true that we do not welcome Sadness. Rather, we prefer to avoid it. And if we have to be near Sadness, we can be awkward or insensitive. How many times have we fumbled when a friend experienced loss? How many times have we wished there were no more tears to shed when we feel Sadness ourselves?

Yes, I would rather have Joy over Sadness. But I do appreciate what Sadness has brought to my life. It was in seasons of Sadness when friendships grew deeper roots, when priorities became crystal clear, when values were tested, when times of Joy were even made more brilliant in retrospect.

“I will pray you back.” They are the words she breathed when we said good bye at the airport. I am looking forward to setting up a new home in another country, but I will miss my friend. The one who calls me at the time I have just left the office and facing the end-of-office-day traffic. The one who stayed at my home when I needed solace and company,  who helped me and the children when we were in shock by grief. We did come back , much to her delight. “I prayed you back. I prayed you back!” she exclaimed as she greeted us at the airport. But then she left for that eternal home.  I have memories of golden hair, blue eyes, a bright smile and a lilting voice. Of joyous celebrations and warm hugs. Of a spirit that could not be bowed. Wow!

What beautiful memories I keep from those sad moments! Of dearly loved people who were persistent in being present and available, though I said I did not need help. Of tough calls at work that cemented friendships and values.

It was a special day – Dad’s Remembrance Day! The beautiful plates and cutlery are out. There’s a special meal just for the evening. We even poured juice into long-stemmed crystal wine glasses. And the candles are lit. He is deeply missed. But tonight we share all the funny things we remember about him. Laughter rings out. Sometimes you can spy a tear or two. 

I shut down my computer and locked my office. My heart was breaking. The blockages were just one too many for me to handle today. It’s been a long year and we were so near to achieving what we said we will do. But today, we paused. Someone was not convinced and we needed that person’s vote of confidence. . . Out of the disappointments of the days ahead came a brilliant rescue plan, crafted by a dedicated team who were as committed to leaving a great legacy as I was. Amazing memories of teamwork in the trenches!

Though I prefer Joy and the sun to shine, I do relish the fragrance of the rain sodden earth. Though my spirit soar when I see bright blue skies, dark ominous clouds send me to the comfort of home and my favorite chair.

My life is not dissected by seasons of Joy and Sadness. Rather, I experience them like a company of fraternal twins. Sometimes, one outshines the other, at other times one appears to be quiet and distant, but both are always around.

May you find good in Sadness and appreciate her when she saves your day. Will you share your story when she does?

2 thoughts on “When Sadness Saves The Day (Reflections On Life And The Movie “Inside Out”)

  1. I know that Sadness is the one that saves the day in the movie, but Joy helped and so did Disgust (by burning the window open) and Anger (using the fire from his head to burn the window). Bing Bong helped too by sacrificing himself for Joy to get out of the memory dump. My question is how did Fear help save the day? Please answer me and tell me how.

    Liked by 1 person

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