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In Praise of Sad Things

My friend Matthew sent me this Steven Wilson video, for no particular reason except that it’s lovely and we share music and amusing Internet Things (we both were bummed we didn’t think up the ship a box of glitter thing). The video is also really, really sad and haunting. I watched this on the heels of Inside Out, which I saw with my daughter. While the movie was a little intense for her in places — when you’re 4, you basically travel through the story AS the character witch which you most identify–we stayed for the whole thing.

We talked a lot about feelings after, and our favorite parts of the movie. Grace is a very happy, silly and wickedly funny kid, so it surprised me that her favorite part was when the character Sadness couldn’t get up off the floor because she was so sad. “I feel like that sometimes when I don’t want to go to school and just stay in bed,” she told me. Which is ironic, because for me, I really latched on the the reminder that you can let sadness breathe in the same space as so many other feelings. So of course. Of course.

I need to honor sadness just as much as I need to honor rain, or nighttime, or hunger. What I loved about the Steven Wilson video, and the movie and also sad songs and sad art and sad friends, is that in a way they bear witness to my own sadness, and don’t try to talk me out of a feeling, or cheer me up. it’s a kind of keeping company of like hearts.

Someone once told me that if you don’t let your negative emotions come in and out through the front door–grief, anger, sadness, what have you–they will find a way out through the basement window, up the chimney or seep out the cracks in the weatherstripping, and the byproducts of those feelings may emerge in surprising and not very good ways. It may take a while. They may become stuck and malignant.

So, hello, Sadness. Time for tea.

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Vanessa McGradyIn Praise of Sad Things

Comments 2

  1. Flip Wingrove

    Dear Vanessa, My psychologist wife and I saw inside Out together. She was impressed with both the validity of the message and it’s accurate execution. We have survived the unexpected loss of two children during our 59+ years of marriage, with minimal effect on our mental well-being. In the process I believe that I have come to respect loss and sadness without honoring it. I feel the same way about much of our historical past – such as WW2 etc.. — Flip

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