Sunday, December 31, 2017

#2018

This has been the year of Hamilton for my family. Phil and I went to see it in the Fall and came home playing the music from the show. Our kids have been downright obsessed ever since.
They always go in phases with this stuff but the Hamilton phase has stuck around for longer than I might have expected for a couple of little kids who haven't seen the show. Every meal, every trip to every store, every moment of everywhere somehow involves them singing and rapping. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised really. The show is positively extraordinary and both Phil and I agreed that it had been years since we had been so humbled by anything.
I read a blog post the other day by Mike Schur who was going on, as most of us Hamilton obsessed fans do, about the genius of the whole thing. In the post, Mike talks about how there are these different moments in the show that just sneak up on you. Where the sheer genius of the whole thing and how you've probably never experienced anything like this in your life, sort of washes over you in a way that both catches you unawares, and is altogether rather emotional and breathtaking.
Schur writes, "The third time I saw Hamilton, that moment was during 'It’s Quiet Uptown,' when this enormous, sprawling, improbable, otherworldly, multi-ethnic, historical, art tornado presses pause on all of its historical-cultural-ethno-sociological-artistic investigations, and spends four and a half spare minutes with a couple who are grieving an unimaginable tragedy. Specifically, it was the lines:
Forgiveness
Can you imagine?
Forgiveness
Can you imagine?
What a thing to do, for your characters – to give them four and a half minutes in the middle of an enormous, sprawling, historical swirl, to just be sad. What a piece of writing that is."
And here we are. At the end of this enormous, complex, sprawling, honestly kind of painful year for a lot of us. 2017 had its high moments to be sure. But I know so many of us that are licking our wounds. It was, quite candidly, a bit of an ass kicking.
I think about Schur's words a lot actually. Not just about Hamilton but about life in general. What a special thing it is really, to just take a few minutes to just let yourself be sad. To just own it, and sit with it. This year was hard. I think we owe owe our characters a minute at least or more to acknowledge that.
And then we move on.
My favorite part of Hamilton, and Schur touches on this briefly as well, is Lin-Manuel Miranda's journey in writing it. How absurd of an idea it must have seemed to literally everyone to create a musical about any of this. To re-imagine our country's history. To depict George Washington as a black man. I love that his idea made no sense, and I love that he stuck with it undeterred. He believed in something so deeply in his bones that he held on to it more tightly than any of the naysayers, logic, or history itself.
This year, find someone, something, some idea, some dream, anything really, and believe in it in a way that no one can talk you out of. That's what we're going to do with this gift of a new year. We are going to double down as hard as we can, and dream the hell out of this thing. We are going to stare down the face of all of 2017's demons and tell them to screw off because it's a new year and we've got work to do.
For me, that moment Schur is talking about where all of it overwhelms you, well when I saw it live, I thought it was Burn. But when I went home and really sat with the soundtrack and sat with my kids as we played it over and over again, it was actually Non-stop where I had the tears running down my face unexpectedly:
Why do you write like you’re running out of time?
Write day and night like you’re running out of time?
Ev’ry day you fight, like you’re running out of time
Keep on fighting
In the meantime.
Keep on fighting in the meantime friends.
It's our 2018 mantra. Non-stop.