(photo is the property of the newyorker.com)
The theatre has always been in my blood. Music has always run just as deeply in my veins. So when Lin-Manuel's Hamilton MixTape hit the stage as Hamilton, an Off-Broadway production, back in February of last year, it definitely caught my eye. Playing to sold out crowds it was only a handful of months before its Broadway debut one year ago this month. I was absolutely hooked as I watched the cast masterfully perform each selection that was chosen for airing during this years Tony Awards; where Hamilton was nominated for a staggering 16 awards, taking home 11.
What began as a small "mixtape" project (google his performance of it at the White House back in 2009) turned into an absolute sensation. All based on the unbelievably tarnished story of an underdog immigrant who went on to become one of our least talked about founding fathers. As Lin put it, "our ten-dollar Founding Father without a father."
How can something like a musical be so profoundly impacting to a person?
The underdogs. The cast offs. The down-on-their-lucks. Those are the people who I gravitate towards. Those who naturally don't have very much going for them. In all honesty, those are my people. Those who deserve wrath, but who instead are given a seat at the table. Those who have a laundry list of things that disqualify them yet there is some sort of fight deep in their bones that is tougher than any fight you'll ever see. Who knew that Alexander Hamilton was one of these ragtag misfits?
Ron Chernow, that's who.
This is the book that inspired Lin to write Hamilton. The story of Alexander Hamilton which led to lines and lyrics that have challenged me to the core.
"You have no control: who lives, who dies, who tells your story."
When I was young I dreamed of all of the ways that my life would count for something. Fast forward to now and I find that I've settled. I've settled for a lie; believing that a time will come when I will be able to do what I love. After all, I'm surrounded by people who love what they do. For some people, they are blessed with opportunities to pursue their dreams full time. For others, that will never be the case. For me, that never has been the case. There will always be people smarter, more articulate, more gifted and who have more resources. There will always be a reason to wait.
For Alexander Hamilton - in the midst of his scandals and reputation for just blurting out the truth, he knew that his time was precious. He wrote like he was running out it. Time wasn't something that controlled him, rather it was something that he used to his own advantage. At 49 years old, he died, yet his legacy lives on today in our history books and on our U.S. Currency.
Why, though? Why is this so inspiring?
Well, it is inspiring because this orphan, adulterous, man had every reason to give up when his own father cut out on him when he was ten. Then again when his mother died two years later. But he didn't. Even after moving in with a cousin who then committed suicide. After surviving a hurricane, losing a son, and countless other events that would try even the strongest of souls, Alexander Hamilton was unrelenting. He was determined that he would not throw away his shot.
All of us have potential somewhere inside of us. Every. Single. One. Some have opportunities handed directly to them - others have to fight for it. I, am one who needs to fight for it. Is it worth it? Well, that's up to you.
What are the hopes and dreams that you have allowed time or circumstances bury? If you really, honestly, believed that you were running out of time, would your days and nights look different?
This thought process has completely shaken me to the core. I've rearranged so many things in my life, just in this past week, to reflect a life that I want to have count for something. Anything! Regardless of how big or small it may seem.
Step One (for me): Read this book by Ron Chernow. The 800+ page book that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to write a record-breaking, hip-hop influenced, musical. Let's see what motivated a genius on vacation to put his pen to the paper and create a masterpiece.
What would your first step be?