Way back in 1990, The Simpsons aired it's sixth episode 'Moaning Lisa', primarily fixating on why Lisa is sad though she cannot say why, and through her pairing with Bleeding Gums Murphy she finds the hope to be herself again. To this day, the episode hits hard with me because it tackles many difficult topics for a cartoon without ever becoming patronising or despairingly bleak.
Like Lisa, I find myself waking up some days feeling defeated and hopeless. I cannot pinpoint a reason or a cause as to why I feel that why, I just simply do. Then sometimes, when I'm getting dressed for work, or trying to find my wallet I hear the voice in my head that says "You're lonely. No one is here. Everyone has gone away and left you." This becomes a daily battle with myself, one half of my brain telling me that I'm fine and I'm having an off day, the other twisting it in the most melodramatic fashion, "You have no money. Your degree is pointless. Why are you bothering to be okay? You should be worrying. You're never going to get a real job so why are you even trying? Why are you being a people pleaser? You're embarrassing yourself. Look how well they're doing. You're never going to be like that."
Like I say, I cannot pluck a reason out of thin air for how I feel, it is a variety of things thrown into one big cauldron. Like Lisa, I have days when I can't even smile, or if I do it's because I'm forcing myself to be okay, to put on a front. Then I get home, I sit on the couch and realise how exhausting it is to put on an act like that. I feel like I'm in a tunnel, or a box from which there is no escape. Adulthood comes in many shapes and forms for many, but once University ended everything just lost a sense of purpose. I feel like I'm letting people down for not using my degree to get a more substantial job. I isolate myself so I don't burden anyone. Lisa is very much isolated from her family, through her music or her thriving academic success, and this could be a reason as to why she is saddened but it is really never explained. I too feel isolated at the best of times. Though my house mate is a truly an amazing person, I find myself at a distance, of always feeling lonely, my friends through University are scattered up and down the country, meaning I rarely see them. Though I have family in close proximity, I always feel I am intruding, intruding on their life and new aspirations. I have friends in relationships, friends who are getting engaged or moving onto the next step in life, yet I feel like I'm being left behind. Not to say I'm in desperate need of a partner by all means, I enjoy single life.
Yet, I find loneliness to be different as opposed to wanting to be in a relationship. It's the companionship people long for. Rejection on the other hand, reinforces the loneliness. Such as when Lisa improvises on her sax during a school musical number, the idea is rejected by her teacher. Lisa's expression of her true self is rejected rather than nourished, again something I can resonate with. Days can come and go, and, in the words of Lisa, I feel like "I'm the saddest kid in Grade Number 2".
Hope prevails however, in the form of both Lisa's, and my creativity. Lisa is a musician, who expresses herself through Jazz and can play her blues away, whereas mine is writing, poems, prose, anything that nourishes me and helps unscramble the many voices fighting to dominate my mind.
I'm not saying I'm the only one who feels like this, I know so many people that feel the same way but maybe are unsure of how to voice their feelings and emotions but by the end of 'Moaning Lisa', you can be assured that it's okay to be sad. Marge becomes the mother we all know and love by encouraging Lisa to be herself, if she wants to be sad, she can be sad, but the whole family will be there for her no matter what, and sometimes that is exactly what we need to hear. The days where we wish to shut ourselves off from the world are needed so that we can re-emerge the next day, feeling more elated and more cathartic. Sometimes we need those moments to be sad, to show our emotion rather than bottle it up, in order to see the light again, and value everything that makes our lives so substantial and rewarding. I still have my bad days, but then I wake up the next day feeling better, ready for a new outlook on the day, feeling unstoppable. I make new friends, talk to more people, I expand myself, push myself in order to narrow down the days when I'm not feeling particularly great.
So what really have I learnt from this? If anything, Lisa Simpson taught me that it's okay to have those days where you want nothing to be sad, but that it will always get better through the people you surround yourself with, and it feels euphoric, exactly what I imagine Lisa felt that very moment when she played her saxophone with Bleeding Gums under a full moon.
So thank you Lisa Simpson.