The Lion King is in Fresno, California and my sister and I took a break from all that we have gone through and saw it. This is just a reflection on the musical and also some of the lessons that come to mind as I am entering my Dad’s wake tomorrow.
“It’s the circle of life. And it moves us all. Through despair and hope. Through faith and love. Till we find our place on the path unwinding. In the circle, the circle of life.”
Circle of Life
“He lives in you. He lives in me. He watches over. Everything we see. Into the water. Into the truth. In your reflection. He lives in you”
He Lives in You
Picture of the Lion King souvenir program
Planning a funeral is a lot of work. Its exhausting. At a time in life where you just want to relax and deal with what you have gone through, instead you are stressing to get things done. Another aspect is the people who reach out. I am overwhelmed. We are drowning in food by loving neighbors, Dad’s former co-workers and more. My family is grateful for all of it. Against all this The Lion King came to Fresno, California. I saw The Lion King in Chicago in the 2003 or 2004 time-frame with Mom and Dad. If Mom and Dad were still here they would have gone to see the musical. So I suggested to my sister, why don’t we see The Lion King and take a break from all that we have gone through? She thought about it and decided that we should go see it.
Thoughts on The Lion King
The Lion King is a work of art and just masterful. If you have not seen it in a professional production you really need to go. The creativity and art is incredible. The costumes are magnificent. The lighting is stunning and the way it all comes together is breath-taking. When I saw The Lion King in Chicago with my parents I was blown away by what I had seen. I was familiar with the soundtrack but seeing it all together just was a unique once in a lifetime experience. My Mom was so impressed and adored it that for years afterward she occasionally brought it up.
When I was driving home from the theater yesterday I was reflecting on what The Lion King means for my generation. I was born in the 70’s and in college when it came out. I was blown away by what I saw when I watched it. At 20 years old it made a major impression on me and yet for many young people it very well could have been the very first movie that they saw. I kind of grew up with The Lion King in that I saw the movie, became aware of the other material, saw the Broadway production and am aware that they are doing a remake in 2019. For half of my life The Lion King has been there in some shape, manner or form. In considering it I think The Lion King is probably the best modern classic that Disney has done. The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin are all fine and solid, but in my opinion they will never come close to the stature of The Lion King. The music by Hans Zimmer, Elton John and Tim Rice really gives it life in a rich way.
Lessons From The Lion King During a Season of Mourning
As I sat in the theater and watched The Lion King unfold there were a number of lessons that hit me hard. Especially in this season of loss with what my family is experiencing with the loss of Dad. The Lion King reminded me of the greater themes in life and I raised it with my sister as we were driving home. But this is some of what stood out for me.
- Life is not fair and many people are denied justice. I thought of the way Mufassa was murdered and the burden that Simba carried. Mufassa was denied justice through the jealousy of his brother. Simba carried a heavy burden for a good portion of his life. He was convinced that he was responsible for his Dad’s death. And it crushed his spirit. In the context of my Dad, he was denied justice also. His life was ended by a brain tumor. We all will deal with pain and loss at different times in life. But a lot of people will be denied justice in some shape, manner or form. Watching a loved one die of an illness is an incredible tragedy and act of injustice.
- The Circle of Life is very much real. We all are born and we all are going to die. The key to life is to enjoy and celebrate it. Birth and death are a natural part of life. The young know this, so must the old. Generations replace each other and life carries forward. But this is just how life is.
- The love between a father and a son can be deep and rich. The love between Mufassa and Simba was intimate. It comes out in the play and that is what makes the death all the more hard. How do you process that love when the loved one is gone? How do you keep things moving forward when at the same time you want the world to stop so you can process everything?
- One key element of the story in The Lion King is being in pain and hurting. This is part of the season of life. Life is not always going to be comfortable and carefree. There are going to be times of loss and pain. People are hurting, actually many people are hurting in different ways. It can be through death, opioid addiction, watching someone deal with dementia or Alzheimer’s, etc… Life is going to be painful as its hard.
- Hakuka Matata! Life is life and to the best of your ability don’t worry about everything but keep it in stride. Also as Timeon and Pumba teach have friends along the way. Make new friends and reach out of your comfort zone or bubble and get to know new people. A life that is deep and rich is to be shared with other people. For some people it can mean a girlfriend. For others friends they met through school, work, sports, gym or more. But life is to be enjoyed.
- The season of mourning will end at one point. You will never get over the loss but you find the courage to move forward. You are different as you emerge from the period. You develop new scars from your experience and those will exist long term. But life will go forward and you will find new ways of living. New reasons and purposes to life. Life is reach and the darkest night will one day become morning. The dawn will break on your life and you will find ways to enjoy it. For me now is not that time. Its dark having just experienced death and loss.
At some point in the future my night will become a dawn. And I will move forward and find new reasons to live. But now its trying to put one foot before the other and get used to all the changes and loss that have occurred. In a way that is part of life. The Circle of Life for my parents has ended. They had a long, rich and deep life and now it is over. But their memory and who are they can continue through me. That is the hope that I have. Much of this was bouncing around in my head last night and I wanted to get this out of me into a post.