Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Lion King and the Coronavirus

The New Normal Isn’t New or Normal Anymore
It’s been over a month since the mandatory shut-downs put a stop to life as we know it due to the Coronavirus. Life in this new normal has been anything but normal with the quarantines, social distancing, and mandatory mask-wearing. The rise and fall of emotions and the inability to grieve and hug our loved ones over loss seem too much at times to cope. I go back and forth from being depressed and determined, anxious, and full of peace, and I wonder, like you do, how much longer this will last. My faith gives me hope at the end of the day, but sometimes I need something else, something that everyone can agree on. Sometimes I need the comfort of good stories.

Looking for meaning in stories that inspire
We are wired for story—we have been since the beginning of time. There is something comforting and safe about seeing a hero’s journey play out to its completion, and sometimes it’s enough to get us through a rough spot. Watching the Disney movie, The Lion King, might be what you need to help.

Mufasa’s promise to his son

Mufasa sits with young Simba looking at the horizon and tells him how everything the light touches will be his kingdom one day. Simba, only a cub at the time, can’t understand the depth of this truth. But despite his youth, nothing can change his royal linage.

Stolen promise
When his uncle Scar causes the stampede that kills Mufasa and blames it on Simba, Simba believes him. He lets fear and grief drive him away. This is the most heart-wrenching moment of the movie as we watch the death of the beloved father, the grief of the helpless son, and the vicious nature of the evil uncle as he uses cunning and betrayal to take over the kingdom at any cost. But there is more to this story when you look closer.

How the Lion King is like the Coronavirus
When Simba witnesses the death of his father, it marks a devastating turning point pushing him to act in the only way he knows how—he ran. Similarly, the Coronavirus came on like the stampede of wildebeests, trampling everything in its path. It’s taking the lives of friends and family, keeping us at a distance from people and places, destroying the economy, and causing desperation and uncertainty for the future. In its wake, we are left with a sense of loss, and we question if our lives will ever be ours again. We, too, are tempted to run--run from all we know that can help us get through this.

We first feel fear
When trauma hits hard, we first react with fear. Grief over loss, anger over the situation, and numbness of despair overtake us. We lose sight of everything else in the wake of this pandemic of negativity. But true to the power of story, reaching a devastating turning point is a necessary step in the telling of timeless stories. Not by coincidence, this moment opens a door in our eternal story—a doorway to rediscover what has been ours all along.

No worries—but not really
Simba runs because he gives in to fear and lies. He tries desperately to block out all memories of his father and the eternal truths he learned from him. He makes friends and tries to adopt a new life, free of responsibility. But eternal truths have a way of resurfacing—mostly because of their divine nature. They come back to haunt Simba through his best friend, Nala, and through the wise confidant, Rafiki.
Look closer

Simba doesn't want to listen at first. He is surrounded by the din of distractions. But when Rafiki lures him to the pond, the quietude of the night speaks softly to his heart. He comes to the edge of the pond and sees his reflection. It reminds him of his father. As he looks in the heavens, he sees the image of his father in the stars and hears the gentle whisper, remember who you are. Then, and only then, Simba accepts with humility and boldness his true nature and regains the courage to fight for what has always been his.

We are more than what we appear to be

We, too, must find a way to look closer and remember who we are. When something as crushing as a COVID-19 brings us to our knees, we might think we’re knocked down—defeated. Not so. Yes, we’ve reached a devastating turning point, but that’s never how the story ends. It’s a trigger to look closer and push through. When we remember our divine nature, individual worth, and our inherent ability to press forward through any situation, we regain courage and strength that has been ours all along. We remember who we are. We stand up. We resolve to take back what is ours—our peace of mind, our positivity, and our ability to fight. Our strength inspires others who need to see it can be done. Our actions help those who are too weak to help themselves. We come together, one by one, changing lives and making a difference for good in all we do.

The virus is here and can't be ignored, but what it does to our hearts and how we chose to let it affect us is totally in our control. Let this time of quarantine bring you to a remembrance of your eternal worth, a reconciliation to take it back, and a resolve to overcome whatever is stacked up against you. You can. It’s part of your make-up. No one can take that away from you.

Together, we will get through this, one story at a time.


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