Earlier this summer, my family and I went to the theater to watch Inside Out, the latest Pixar animation offering. It was the story of a young girl and what goes on inside her head with her five main emotions: joy, sadness, fear, anger, and disgust. The girl, Riley, moves with her family from Minnesota to San Francisco and struggles with that change, as any 11-year-old would.
The movie gives us some insight to how our emotions change over time. When we’re born, joy jumps to the fore as we explore our new world. Sadness soon follows though, as we know by the frequent tears of newborns. Fear follows shortly after as young ones start to recognize familiar and unfamiliar sights. Anger and disgust are added as kids get older and can communicate and understand the world better.
These emotions are a frequent part of everyone’s lives. We hope to stick to mostly joyful emotions, but that’s unrealistic at times. The movie shows how easy it is for sadness, anger, etc. to rear up and take over.
Case in point: Anne Feist called me last week. I was having a very good day. I’d finished a good novel and accomplished a few things around the house on my to-do list. Joy was bubbling over. However, Anne was calling to tell me that, after 15 years at NRHEG, she was taking a job at USC, her home district. My joy was quickly displaced by sadness. Anne and I had taught together for most of my career and always gotten along well. We worked in the same cohort for our Master’s degrees a decade ago and really understood each other’s style of teaching.
Of course I’d be sad she’s leaving; we’re losing another exceptional teacher. However, much like with some of our other departures, I had to find that joy again. Good for Anne for an opportunity to not have to drive so far every day and to get to teach in that fabulous new structure in Wells. And who knows? The teacher that is found to take her place could teach here for even longer and be just as good.
Anger was never part of the equation of that scenario. I’ve tried to scale back on anger, but earlier this summer, it boiled over; in fact, I faced all five emotions seen in that movie in a matter of hours.
I’ve gotten a lot of joy from providing music to my church for many years. I only become wholly invested in mass when music is involved, and playing and singing hopefully gives joy to not just me, but everyone around me. It was a Sunday morning, and I had that joyful feeling with the songs I had picked out for church.
However, the joy was displaced by the time the sermon was over. Our local Catholic churches have one priest who serves us sometimes who stood up and ranted about the Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriages.
Let’s be clear. Everyone has an opinion and a right to that opinion. It wouldn’t matter if I agreed or not, but the illogical and obscene things I heard out of his mouth that morning started a simmer going. It hit the boiling point when I had to listen to the conjecture that the Supreme Court was ruining our country, and soon we should pull our kids from public schools because of what will be taught regarding some of the controversial items such as same-sex marriage, contraception, abortion, divorce, etc.
Nobody gets to attack my profession in public in that manner. I’m proud that I give my students the ability to look at BOTH sides of an issue and make an informed decision on how they feel. I’m proud of so much about our public schools, and that horrible statement sent me over the edge, where I couldn’t even play music any more that morning, removing so much of the joy I normally experience.
Michelle and I talked about it after church, experiencing all the emotions. I felt so much anger and disgust that I suggested I could no longer play music at church, never being sure when that particular priest would be present. I felt sadness at that. I hope I’ve made a difference for some people at church, but no more.
It’s only about a year until our parish closes anyway. We decided to make the trip to New Richland for church every Sunday, and I will take time off from music until we get our new priest. That quick trip through all the emotions displayed in the movie really rattled me, but having a supportive wife to help guide me through them sure helped.
And now I’m focusing on joy. That’s where most of our memories should be built. Others help shape us, as we learned in the movie, but if we stray too far from the good memories, joy can leave our life. I’m finding joy from singing loudly every Sunday, without the other emotions getting in the way.
Word of the Week: This week’s word is osculate, which means to touch or bring together, as in, “The music was able to osculate the congregation, as everyone belted out their favorite hymn.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!