Despite the popularity of a certain song, the Disney Corporation did not invent the concept of the Circle of Life. It is a tenuous reality.
Some years ago I studied paganism. The outcome was ultimately ackward and somewhat unsatisfying, typical of all spiritual ventures I have undertaken. However, along the way I realized something very sweet and sad and oddly comforting. For many reasons, I am compelled today to recall this lesson.
When we are born, we are perfect. We are to be loved and protected and cherished. We are the center of the universe. Our limbs are loose and weak, and we gain strength by running and challenging our bodies. We learn to grasp and hold and to place round things in round holes, and square things in square holes. We are to be filled with joy and wonder every time we taste or touch or hear. We are to be taught and encouraged to play and explore. And we are to be innocent.
When our bodies change, we are afraid and thrilled and sad. The new sensations are puzzling and liberating. Our skin erupts, and we have odd pains. We alternately fear we are dying and know we will live forever. Our minds turn to philosophy and mathematics, and the wondrous structure of language. We are free to challenge our constraints. Our synapses are constantly firing. We are to be reigned in when we endanger ourselves, and reassured when we are sad.
When we find love, we are whole and carefree and beautiful. Love winds arounds us and binds us without constricting us; we are more free when we love. We dress ourselves in our finest clothing and present ourselves to the other, and when we have made the commitment we are consumed with the warmth of our emotion. We are light as air. We are to be adored.
When our children arrive, we are exhausted and exhilarated, and we feel a new type of love, an emotion that we can loosely classify as love but which is far more intense. We are responsible for another; we feed and clothe, we care for our children, we protect our children. We are bound to the earth, pragmatic and round with arms open and hearts aching. We are to be heard.
When the children leave, we are empty. We are ready to be filled again. We fill ourselves with grandchildren, friendships. We volunteer to help others, and we take important, powerful jobs. Others look to us for advice, because we have walked through the desert and survived. Ours hearts have ached with loss and we have survived. We have loved and travelled the circuitous and surprising path that we have loved and hated. We have gained wisdom, and we are to be respected.
When the darkness falls, we are weak and tired. It is difficult to breathe, and it is difficult to see the world we are leaving behind. We grow feeble and silent, and it is stark winter in our souls. We are ready to move on, ready to leave. We are ready to begin again when we complete the circle.