You ever gone into a movie and then come back out with something entirely different than what you expected? That’s how I felt watching Pixar’s Inside Out. Sure, it’s a kids’ movie. But if you’ve been around here for a while, you know that doesn’t stop me.
It didn’t this time, anyway. I came out of the movie feeling like I’d been hit in the face with a Pixar movie, a psychology lesson, and a counseling session all at once.
It really explains so much, these emotions running around in a bright, colorful version of our brains. Explains why we get random songs stuck in our head. Explains why facts and opinions get so jumbled. Even explains why cats can be perfectly calm and then need to be in the next room RIGHT NOW.
In Riley’s head, Joy is in control. At least, she was until this whole move happened and all the other emotions thought they needed control of the board. And Sadness (who is secretly Joy’s least favorite person, uh, emotion in the world) felt the need to touch everything no matter what Joy tries.
When you think about it, it’s really that misguided attempt to keep Sadness from touching everything that gets Joy and Sadness sucked up a tube and deposited in long term memory. Leaving Anger, Fear, and Disgust to rule Riley’s head.
It’s a long movie with a lot of nuances that I can’t dive into here. (Well, I could, but it’s not really necessary.)
But really, the whole journey isn’t as much about getting back to Riley’s headquarters. I mean, Joy and Sadness are stuck together for this whole journey. And along the way, Joy is forced to admit that Sadness gets some things right. Like the way she comforted Riley’s imaginary friend Bing Bong who was in danger of being forgotten. Like the way she came up with the idea to scare Riley awake to get the train of thought running again.
But that’s not enough. When it comes down to keeping Riley’s core memories entirely happy or getting them both back to headquarters, Joy chooses to go on alone.
Of course, the tube she’s taking back breaks and lands her in the dump, where any memories left fade to gray and then into ash and then into . . . nothing.
Joy wanders through the gray memories, picking up one here, another one there. “Remember this?” “Remember that?”
Finally Joy drops all the memories, wraps her arms around herself, and begins to cry. “I just wanted Riley to be happy.”
That’s when she notices the one glowing memory still scattered among the grey.
It’s one of Joy’s favorites—a time that Riley spent with her parents and her entire hockey team. But when she rewinds the memory a bit, she realizes it only came because Riley missed the winning goal and was sitting in a tree alone wanting to quit the team.
“They came to help because of Sadness,” Joy realizes.
Nobody really likes Sadness. Not many of the people watching the movie. Not her own emotional peers. In real life, we don’t like feeling sad. (I don’t, anyway.) We don’t want Sadness invading our everyday life, our memories, our anything.
It’d be so much easier to just skip and dance our way through our happy days.
But what I’d never thought about or expected when watching Inside Out was that sadness is what makes happiness possible.
The best moments of joy come from the deepest moments of sadness.
Sadness is like the listening ear that comes and sits next to us in our darkest moments. Joy is the friend that comes and helps us stand back up.
I wouldn’t know how deep joy is if I hadn’t known how deep sadness was.
I wouldn’t know how much my friends and family care about and support me if I hadn’t felt alone first.
I wouldn’t know how much God loves me and His power over the darkness if I hadn’t felt unloved and helpless first.
Sadness isn’t a place to camp out. It’s a checkpoint, a train station on the way to Joy. A checkpoint we need.
We need sadness. But we need joy too.
Luckily, I know the Source of all joy—the One Who works even sadness to lead towards the brightest moments.
*What about you? Did you like Inside Out? Any insights from your own emotional journey?*
My all-time favorite Pixar movie is Up. (Fun fact. Save that for surprise trivia later.)
The whole movies centers on Carl Fredericksen, who just wants to be left alone to grieve his wife’s death. His house and everything are exactly the same as they were the minute she died. Except a bustling city has sprung up around said house. And the construction company in charge of that city would dearly love to have Carl’s little piece of land.
When push (a cement mixer that squashes the mailbox he and Ellie painted together) comes to shove (Carl whacks a construction worker over the head with his cane), Carl finds himself ordered out of his house by the judge.
So he does what any normal guy would do.
He ties a gazillion balloons to his house and flies his house to South America to fulfill his wife’s dream. After all, a promise is a promise, right? (He CROSSED HIS HEART.)
Just Carl and Ellie. Heading to Paradise Falls. Alone.
But there was this kid named Russell who was looking for a snipe under his porch. And there was this dog named Dug who’s convinced Carl is his master. And there was this bird named Kevin, who was, well, Kevin. (As if Kevin wasn’t enough, Kevin also happens to be an extremely rare creature being hunted by Carl’s childhood hero.)
Adulting. Need I Say More?
When I graduated from high school, I was extremely introverted and socially anxious. I hadn't had a lot of interaction with kids my age or people outside my family in general due to circumstances outside my control. Just the idea of having to make eye contact with the clerk at Walmart made my heart pick up the pace a little.
Ever since I was little, I craved routine. I wanted the same things to happen at the same time every day.
I hated the unknown. If I had no prior experience with something, fun or not, it was immediately subject to careful inspection.
Which didn’t cause too many problems as a homeschooled high-schooler. I could curl up in my Carl-like world, safe and mostly content.
But then I graduated. And I had to get a job. And a driver’s license. And make conversation with other people without my family around.
There was this job at an elementary school. And there was this young adult gathering at church. And there was . . . ADULTING.
It was awful. For a few days, anyway. I was overwhelmed and frustrated and anxious. I didn’t even talk about my coworkers for almost a year because I was still so nervous every time they tried to even say good morning. True story.
Then something strange happened.
So Many Doors I Never Knew Existed
I discovered I wasn’t as shy as I thought.
Once I had the chance to get out and experience life, I realized my coworkers were very different than I am, but pretty fun. I learned I liked meeting friends for chai or going over to their house to watch a movie (and actually picking out the movie on my own!).
There still were the matters of driving places I’d never gone before, going to appointments alone, and shopping on my own. But even they weren’t quite so bad as I had imagined. (Google Maps helped.)
I still love and need my quiet time at home. But so many doors I never knew existed stood wide open before me.
I smiled looking back at my goals for 2021. I had written that I wanted to become more confident. That’s exactly what happened. And it wouldn’t have happened unless I’d taken a few risks and a few chances.
I can’t imagine what life would be like now if I hadn’t taken any of those adventures, unexpected though they were.
Life doesn’t go the way we plan. Carl’s didn’t. Mine didn’t. 2021 didn’t. 2022 won’t.
And maybe that is a fantastic thing.
Whether or not these unexpected adventures feel wonderful at the time—some do, some don’t—they will lead us somewhere wonderful.
Know how I know? Because God’s steering the ship, and He told me so. “For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
So go tie balloons to your house. (Or don’t, on second thought, that could be a safety hazard. Some things in Pixar just don't work out real well in real life.) Don’t overthink it. Take the doors that God opens for you.
Who knows where you’ll go?
*What unexpected adventures did 2021 bring you? What are your hopes for 2022? Share your adventures in the comments below!*
Luca Paguro isn’t so different from other twelve-year-olds in 1950’s Italy. He’s curious and loves learning about everything he can get his hands on. He can often be spotted training on his bicycle for the local Portorosso Cup race. And he’s obsessed with Vespas—whether that means trying to save money for one of his own or helping his best friend, Alberto, build one in the meantime.
Not so different from other kids at all.
Oh, and he also never gets wet. No rain. No swimming. Not even a spilled water glass.
Because if he did, everyone would see that he’s actually a sea monster. (Albeit one with a remarkable ability to look human when he dries out.)
I’ve been excited for Pixar’s Luca since the trailers launched. (You may not have known this, but I’m a bit of a Pixar nerd.)
However, a lot of my peers said it didn’t quite have the sparkle of a Pixar movie. That it didn’t quite have that feel.
I watched it anyway and loved it. (I thought it very much seemed like a Pixar movie.)
One of my favorite scenes is the “silenzio Bruno!” scene. Slices of it were used in trailers and other marketing. You can watch the full scene below.
It seems cute enough (if not deadly) in that clip. And sometimes it is just little irrational fears that tug at us.
Not that “I was just thinking maybe I might die” is an irrational fear.
And for the record, if Bruno is telling you not to put something in your mouth, you might want to listen. Good? Good.
What were we talking about?
Right. Then there are the bigger fears. As we see in Luca, often the biggest struggles hide behind carefree faces. Without giving too much away, the kids in Luca are dealing with some big problems: bullying, parents’ separation, and abandonment by a parent, for starters.
Can we really silence our inner doubts when we’re stuck in the middle of those big things? Can we silence Bruno when it hurts?
You Have More Reason Than Anyone Else To Say It
Once again, for the record, sometimes we do need to listen to Bruno. Sometimes he’s warning us and/or leading us towards a good change.
But more often than not, Bruno wants us to doubt ourselves.
You’re not good enough.
And worse, he wants us to doubt the One Who cares for us.
You are a child of God. A child of the true King, the Leader of angel armies. And it’s that Father Who stands by you in every fear you face, big or small. He doesn’t leave when the crisis is over, either. He stays with you in every aspect of your life, the mundane and the insane.
He has a plan in all this. And it doesn’t feel good at the time. But because He is good, because He’s been good for a million other people a million times before, we know His plan is good.
He’s the reason that you’re good enough, because His sacrifice made you worthy.
He’s the reason you can, because He gives His power to you.
You can go to that youth group and meet others your age.
You can be gracious and merciful to the cruel person in your life.
You can bear up under abuse or bullying, always knowing where your worth is.
With Someone like that on our side, why on earth should we listen to Bruno?
So I don’t care what you say to him, or why his name is Bruno. Just shut him up.
Because you have a reason that you can say, “Silenzio Bruno.”
*What is your Bruno? Have you seen Pixar's Luca? What did you think of it? Share your adventures in the comments!*
I remember watching Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. with my younger siblings for the first time. While it had been a movie I loved when I was younger, I had actually worn out the DVD with how often I watched it, and it just never got replaced.
We had told my younger siblings about this, and they all settled in on the couch or the floor, excited to see what might follow.
Once we sat through the (INCREDIBLY LONG) (but there was a catchy song, so it was okay) opening credits, the screen lit up with a picture of an average child’s bedroom.
Mom said goodnight.
The lights went out.
That’s when the terror began.
A slimy tentacle draped over a chair. Curtains rustling in the wind. And a pair of slanted red eyes glaring from beneath the bed.
By this point—not even five minutes into the movie unless you count those opening credits—one of my elementary-aged brothers, who had struggled with night terrors for years when he was younger, was cowered behind the couch pillows, peeking across to the rest of us, probably trying to figure out what exactly he’d signed on for. (“Watch Monsters, Inc. they said. It will be fun, they said.”)
The enormous monster loomed over the bed. The child screamed.
And, uh, so did the monster.
And before we knew it, said monster was skidding across the floor into a pile of jacks. (Punctuated by said brother’s hysterical cackles in the background.) Then the wall lifted to reveal it was all a simulation.
It’s October. Some great things happen in October. Fall decorations start popping up everywhere. Pumpkin spice dominates each and every restaurant. I went to my first For King and Country concert.
But the majority of the month is dedicated to celebrating fear.
October is a month where storytellers go to great lengths to come up with the darkest and scariest stories they can. (Something I never saw much point in. Who wants to be scared all the time? We get enough of that in real life.)
October’s festivities aside, fear permeates our culture now, especially since the 2020 lockdown. (Should I capitalize lockdown? Is it that serious?) It reminded us that our world—and all the things we thought were untouchable—can change in an instant. And with that reminder came fear.
No need to wait until October. Fear is alive and well all year round.
Fear is power.
In the context of Monsters, Inc., the ones who harness fear’s power are a group of colorful and quirky monsters who really just need kids’ screams so they can start their car in the morning.
In real life, though? There’s nothing quirky or colorful about the one who wants to use our fear to power his empire.
Fear is powerful. It holds us back from the things we love the best. It shuts us down and keeps us in a dark place. It overwhelms us.
But as I watched Monsters, Inc. with a boy who used to refuse to go into any room of the house after dark without a light, who used to never spend the night in his own bed, who used to leave the room over visuals in even G-rated movies—as I watched him laugh his way through the film, I realized something alongside those quirky and colorful monsters.
Joy is more powerful than fear.
Why write stories of fear and despair when we can celebrate joy? When we can point to the pinprick of Light shattering the inky dark? When we can break free of the black prisons that we cower oh-so-comfortably in? When we run outside into the light and discover both new things and old things that truly don’t change when the whole world is flipped upside down?
It’s hard to uncurl from that ball and take a step outside. But maybe this October, we’ll find ourselves celebrating the power of joy—not fear.
(P.S. That boy I mentioned? He hasn’t scurried out of his room at night for years.)
Hi, I'm Rachel! I'm the author of the posts here at ProseWorthy. Thanks for stopping by!