Saturday, May 18, 2013

Can You Feel the Love?

Lately, I've been in a Lion King mood.  Have you ever really paid attention to the lyrics of Can You Feel the Love Tonight?  I am not sure if the Broadway version differs from the movie version but I'm sharing the Broadway version, since that is what I have been listening to.

Simba sings: So many things to tell her, but how to make her see?  The truth about my past?  Impossible!  She'd turn away from me.

A hero not being completely honest and being afraid to be so?  This is kind of a common theme with Disney movies, right?  Cinderella runs from her prince before he finds out her name.  Aladdin gets his genie to make him a prince so he pretend he was a prince pretending to be a beggar.  Mulan cuts her hair.  Ariel gives up her voice.  Aurora's parents whisk her off to the woods.  The Beast holes himself up in his castle.  The whole Disney world, it seems, is full of secrets.

But what are the secrets they are trying to cover?  Well, in the case of Cinderella and Aladdin, it seems to be poverty.  In the case of Mulan, it's that she's a woman.  With the Beast, it's that he's a man (and not an animal).  With Ariel, it's her identity as a mermaid.  And Aurora?  Well, she's so innocent, I don't think she realizes she has anything to hide but her parents do.  They are hiding that she's a princess.

In most of these stories, the thing they are ashamed of or keeping a secret are things that are seemingly harmless to us.  So, you're poor.  And?  You're a woman.  Or a man.  And?  You're a mermaid - ok ,well, I've yet to meet one of those.

I'm not downplaying the moral of their stories.  There is something absolutely terrifying for anyone in any story to expose their whole selves to another person.  It a moment of vulnerability for even the rich and perfect that cannot be understated.  We like these stories because we all hope that someone will see us, truly see us for who we are and love us anyway.

However, in most of these stories, what they are hiding is not because of what I would consider anything they've really done wrong (with the exception of the Beast who was mean to an old lady once).  However, in the Lion King, that feeling is different.  Simba thinks he killed his father.  We know he didn't  but that doesn't remove his guilt.  As far as he knows, the previous king was killed because of him and then, rather than face up to his actions, he ran away.  (Again, this is not quite true since we know they wanted to kill him too but you get the point.)

For years, he has avoided this part of his life.  He's pretended it never happened.  But deep down, he's still terrified of facing his family, facing his past and ultimately, facing himself.  There's a lot riding on the line for him to open up and confess this to Nala.

I can get behind such a character and such a dilemma.  Certainly, I've never been in his situation but I've definitely done the wrong thing and regretted a lot in my life.  For me to have that vulnerable moment one day with someone who I hope will love me, I am absolutely terrified.  In the exact same way, I am scared stiff they'll turn away.  I keep thinking they'll wish they hadn't even tried to get involved.

I love though, Nala's thoughts on the subject: He's holding back; he's hiding, but what? I can't decide.  Why won't he be the king I know he is, the king I see inside?

It's the response we want someone to have even before we've uttered a word and laid bare the ugliness we see in our souls.  We hope desperately that someone will see something in us that is good, that they will look beyond our weaknesses and our shortcomings and see our potential to be something absolutely great.

I think that's the definition of love.  I also think love will be the thing that gets us through those vulnerable moments.  Our loved ones will come to understand our flaws and weaknesses, whether we tell them all our doubts and worries and sins or not.  But in their eyes, the negative does not ultimately define us.  Instead, they can help buoy us up and lift us until we can see for ourselves the good that we hold within us and help us to bring it out.  Can you feel the love?

I hope so.  


  1. Well done Erin. This is so awesome

  2. See I always knew Lion King was the best. Good analysis.