These four words inevitably remind me of the first scenes of the Disney movie “The Lion King”, one that I find very special, for several reasons – it tells a story of love, courage and tenacity, it has a beautiful soundtrack – featuring the incredibly powerful song “The circle of life” – it takes place in Africa… or simply because it was the favourite of my son Afonso who loved to watch it while sitting on my lap.
Now that I am preparing for my trip back to the past – to my homeland Mozambique in Africa that I left more than forty years ago – it is inevitable to look back and think of the first years of my life but also of the years in between. My own circle of life.
The memories of those years inevitably bring back the people whose life paths have been linked with mine.
First of all I remember my family, who welcomed me as I arrived in this world. My mother and father and my maternal grandparents who were there for me from the first moment, guiding my first steps and showering me with love, and then giving me precious guidance and advice. Helping me to discern good from bad. As I grew up it was inevitable that I would not agree one hundred per cent with them but then this was also part of the legacy they would leave me: to have my own mind and the freedom to choose. They raised me to be autonomous and gave me and education so that I might be an independent human being – even if that meant that I would be the one to make my own choices, not them. And for that, and for all they have given me, I am eternally grateful.
I was lucky to have them for many years in my life, and to know they were not disappointed in me.
The circle of life moved forward and from child to teenager friends became more and more important. New lives came across mine: some friends would make me laugh, some I would confide in, some I would party with and some would be a shoulder to cry on when I was sad or disappointed. Many would simply fade away when the circumstances that had brought us together ceased, such as school, holidays or university; but some of them have remained throughout my life, our friendship steady and strong, to last a lifetime and beyond, for who knows how many lives and times we may have crossed together. Some friends made later in life too, not many, but still good friends, born out of shared ideas and views of the world as well as common tastes.
Love also came my way: the first boyfriend who inexplicably left me with a broken heart, the one with whom I kept falling in love with, the steady but jealous one, the one who loved me like no one else had and no one else would, the one I married and had children with but only made me happy for a short time… then mature love, that came as a wonderful surprise, totally unexpected.
And last but certainly not least, my children and the greatest love of all: after giving birth your life will never be the same, because you have put another link in the circle of life, and now it’s not only your past behind you or your present day, but the future ahead of you. As your children grow you get to know more of this new generation: at first they bring their friends home and then their girlfriends…and then one day, hopefully, a new generation will make its appearance, another step towards the future.
The circle unfolds
As the circle inexorably unfolds some of the people in your life begin departing. At first you are startled because it’s an unfamiliar feeling. Suddenly your anchors are being taken away from you. It doesn’t matter how old you are – it will be painful not only because you love them and miss them but also because it makes you conscious of your own mortality; that all is temporary even if there is a time when you are not aware of it. And that awareness is hard to accept.
At this point I stop and think I have been so incredibly blessed. I have had sad and unhappy days – no one can expect a life without them – but fortunately so many more happy and fulfilling moments. The circle of life has taken away some of my loved ones but at a time when they had fulfilled their lives, and it has given me new precious lives to love; it has brought me true friends who are unconditional; I have lived great loves and some disappointments too; I have been blessed with people with such generosity towards me that I will always be grateful to them no matter what; I have learned important lessons and keep learning them every day.
Closing a chapter
So as I prepare to go and make the most emotional journey of all – so far – I know it will somehow close a chapter in my life. I will no doubt heal old wounds that have remained since that day many years ago when I left my house (read about it in my post “Going back”), tears pouring down my face, never to return or so I thought at the time, for I am returning. With all the memories and loved ones of the past inside my heart, but with the present and future beside me: Nuno and my sons. And when we stand before the house of my childhood, of my past, and they help me dry the tears that will inevitably – once again- pour down my cheeks, the wheel of life will have turned again once more. We will walk away together. In the evening we’ll have a drink at terrace of the hotel bar and watch the unique African sunset that I have missed for so many years – the bright yellow and orange ball suddenly disappearing into the horizon, leaving a beautiful pink-coloured sky. We will remember the new memory that has just been created and plan for the places we’ll be visiting in the following days and I will make a toast to life and look forward to the next chapters of this inexorable but also wonderful wheel that keeps spinning and spinning – the circle of life.