what we're reading now
follow us on facebook
follow us on twitter
subscribe to our blog
find it

What We're Reading Now

Hamilton Makes Me Want to Be Brave This 4th of July!

4 July 2017

Barbara watched the musical, Hamilton, in New York, and thought about how not to “throw away her shot.”

Tags: barbara read, barbara watched, conflict, courage

The tickets for Hamilton were an extravagant Christmas present from my daughter for our #BarbaraAndAllisonBucketList tradition. We've been to London and the Lake District as well as Sedona and the Grand Canyon. Allison wrote about our experience at the musical Come From Away and the 9/11 Memorial Plaza last week. I've had so much fun and learned many new things on each of our trips.

Many have reviewed Hamilton, so I am not doing that. I’m going to tell you what moved me, penetrated my psyche, and inspires me to be brave.

I was awed by the magnificence of the current actors and the extraordinary writing and musical talent of Lin-Manuel Miranda. I think he is as good and revolutionary for our time as Shakespeare was for his. There is a strong nod to contemporary problems when Hamilton and Burr sing the line, “Immigrants get things done.” "Yes," I thought. Imimmigrants have made us great, and we must welcome them with open arms.

A whole generation of young people will learn the history of the beginning of our country and not even understand exactly why they liked learning it so much. The music sealed in the history for me in ways that studying in high school had not. One of the new things I learned was that that Hamilton created the financial system that has lasted even though I don’t pretend to thoroughly understand the system.

My 11 year-old granddaughter was first introduced to the music by a friend. The two of them are memorizing all the songs. A New York Times review in 2015 gave a reason for it’s unexpected appeal to children and young people, “Mr. Miranda’s Hamilton, a propulsive mix of hubris and insecurity, may be the center of the show. But he is not its star. That would be history itself, that collision of time and character that molds the fates of nations and their inhabitants. You might even call history the evening’s D.J., making sure there’s always something to dance to.” As I watched my 10-year old grandson listen to the soundtrack and memorize the lyrics this week, I know something special is afoot.

I had checked the CD out of the library last year so I could begin to understand what everyone’s excitement was all about. It didn't occur to me I would one day get to see the show live. I was worried that my resistance to the rap and hip/hop parts of the lyrics would interfere with my ability to enjoy the music. I made some progress by listening to the CD, but seeing the actors sing last month made me respect and enjoy rap as brilliant poetry in ways I had refused to before. I find myself wondering, "What other rap music might I like?"

The line and tune that continues to replay in my head is, “I’m not going to throw away my shot.” I learned from the PBS special, Hamilton's America, that President Obama had asked Mr. Miranda to come to the White House and perform something from In the Heights, the previous Tony award winning play he had written and was starring in. Miranda decided to do something else and performed the part of Hamilton he had written in 2009—the first song. It was such a hit that he continued and wrote the whole musical. He did not miss his shot.

I haven’t done anything as big as start a country, but the song makes me assess my life and think about the times I took big risks and consider how I am or could take them now. Looking back, I asked myself, “When did I have a feeling of that kind of determination?” When I married my second husband only seven months after meeting him, when I moved to Florida in 1982, when I learned to manage a lifelong struggle with anxiety, when I took a job with the American Association for Physician Leaadership that I thought might not last long but that lasted 22 years.

Now taking my shot involves telling risky, revealing things about my life in a memoir I am writing. I've also been learning more about oppression and social justice at my church. I wished I'd been brave enough to do more in the Civil Rights Movement, but I wasn't. Now, I'm tyring to figure out how to fight for social justice, be an ally, and create safe spaces for others.  Also, I've never liked conflict very much, but I've been trying some new tactics when confronting difficult life issues, and I'm quite pleased with the results. I need inspiration when I write risky stuff, take brave public stances, and confront the important people in my life. The characters in Hamilton help me to find my courage.

What opportunity would “not throwing away your shot” mean for you?


Our Comment Policy:

Our blog posts are only half of the conversation. What our readers have to say is equally important to us, and we're grateful for all the comments that continue the dialog.

To ensure that the discussion here is as useful as possible to all of our readers, please be respectful of our contributors and refrain from harassing, threatening and/or vulgar language. We reserve the right to screen and remove any comments from the site. If you have a question about a comment or want to discuss our policy, please contact us. We'll talk it over.

There are no comments for this entry yet.


Leave a comment



Notify me of follow-up comments?

Enter the characters you see below:

« Return to What We're Reading Now