The Lion King is an all-time classic and iconic Disney movie, from the catchphrase, “Hakuna Matata, to the heart-wrenching scene where Mufasa dies (we all shed a few tears there.) To this day, I love this movie because it effectively deals with the illusion of time healing all wounds. The age-old adage, “Time heals all wounds,” is one of the greatest lies we were fed growing up. Here’s why.
Simba’s tale is tragic. His nefarious uncle kills his father, attempts to kill him as well, then just to add salt to a seeping wound, convinces Simba that he is the one to blame for his father’s demise. Talk about your childhood trauma! This taught me that suffering is universal. We all have baggage and past trauma that haunts us. It’s comforting to know that even in the near-perfect world of animation, tough times will come.
Simba is wracked with guilt, shame, loss and grief but instead of dealing with it head-on, he buries his pain in denial, and runs. We are taught from a young age to bury any negative emotions and pretend they don’t exist. As we mature, we trade in denial for alcohol, drugs and other depressants to numb our aching hearts. One thing I’ve learned about trauma is it’s like cancer. It assimilates and becomes one with your DNA, slowly and surreptitiously devouring you until all the good within you is contaminated.
We see this when Simba is unable to have a healthy and normal relationship with Nala because like a mistress, his trauma is his constant companion. He is destined for greatness but lives beneath his potential because to be great you have to slay the dragons that are your past.
Time doesn’t heal wounds, it merely alters them, transforming them into crippling anxiety, bitterness, resentment and feelings of inadequacy. In the famous words of The Fault in our Stars, pain demands to be felt. Anguish is a signal you have been wounded. It invites you to examine the cuts and bruises within begging you to nurse them with salves of truth, compassion, acceptance and finally release.
Healing is an active process and an intentional choice. As is seen in a garden, if you do not tend to your flowers, and maintain them your passive state allows weeds to flourish. In the same way, one has to choose to heal. Choosing to heal is firstly acknowledging you were hurt then allowing the turmoil of agony within you to run rampant. Cry, scream, stain the page with the many lacerations that scar your heart and mind.
In the wave of the aftermath, you can stand proudly with your battle scars, because it soon dawns that you have survived 100% of your worst days and you will likely survive this too. You walk away having learned something about yourself or the world at large, whether it’s being cautious about who you confide in, or setting boundaries to protect yourself, there is always a nugget of wisdom in our pain.
In Japan, there is an age-old tradition of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. This symbolizes finding beauty in our scars. Every line, bruise, laceration and mark is a testament to your strength and resilience. It speaks to the times when you were broken but overcame the obstacles before you rise again.
In the end, Simba faces his demons and slays them, claiming his birth-right and destiny. Triumphant, he stands on Pride Rock a victor, a survivor, and a king in all his glory. Will you watch the minutes tick by and hope that your wounds mysteriously disappear, or will you face them and choose to heal? Only you can decide.