by christina britt lewis
If you see me crying in my Jeep, leave me be.
I'm just listening to the Hamilton soundtrack.
...these tears aren’t solemn, roll-a-single-drop-for-the-fallen tears. They are,
oh-God-I-think-I’m-going-to-crash-my-car-because-everything’s-blurry-and-there’s-snot everywhere tears.
Ugly crying, every time, during my commute.
It was simply, as I tell everybody, the best piece of art in any form that I have ever seen in my life.
If you don't know, now you know...
The definition of a pilgrim is a person who journeys to a sacred place for a spiritual reason.
Some go to Jerusalem, some to India, some trek the Camino de Santiago.
This weekend I’m going to the Richard Rogers theatre in New York City.
Nathan D Davis
my first pilgrimage with my soul sister, Erin Brennan Hall....
the room where it happens...
Hamilton changes your life.
While it might feel like everything rhapsodic that could be said about the show has already been said,
the truth is we all bring our own backgrounds, stories and emotions to art
and — as a result — see and experience the same exact thing in different ways.
Jamie Brown Hantman
So, I am not throwing away my shot...
It all feels very sacred to me.
Hamilton has changed the way we as a family think, talk, spend, feel, travel, live, and enter a room.
One son is not a big Hamilfan, but every good story needs an antagonist. His resistance leads to lively kitchen table conversations full of song that last long into the night. Our other son enters every room with,
what'd i miss? Consequently annoying son one.
This summer, we are turning our garage teen cave into a training gym for Camden because he is not throwing away his shot to be a professional football kicker. Cole is working as a raft guide at
The National Whitewater Center in Charlotte because he did not throw away his shot to train for his
dream summer job.
Jamie Brown Hantman wrote,
the message of Hamilton is pretty much the opposite of Everybody Gets a Trophy.
If you want something, work for it. Don't wait for it.
Tim and I and their Grandma and Grandpa have been saying this their whole little lives.
But when Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr sing it, people finally hear it.
So I see all of this wonderfulness because of Hamilton all around me,
but I have been slow to understand my own obsession.
Then this happened...
Our team was ready to redesign a family room on a typical Tuesday. The deliveries were delivered, the Jeep was unloaded, the designers were caffeinated, ponytailed, and barefoot. The Avett Brothers were singing Ain't no Man. We were good to go, 'cept we were missing a mirror.
Completely redesigned rooms in one day are our thing, so a missing mirror is a big deal. I bought the mirror the day before. The receipt showed that I paid for it, just never loaded it in the Jeep. Must have gotten lost in the lamps and art and whatnot. So, our trusting and kind design assistant headed back to the store, receipt in hand.
She returned with the mirror and a story...
The store manager questioned her honesty, doubted her integrity, and caved begrudgingly after making it known to all around that he thought she was a mirror swindler. This was the same manager who helped me with a rug the day before. False accusations of innocent people make me rise up and speak up.
I hopped in the Jeep and drove to the store.
The manager was collecting carts just outside of the entrance.
I walked up to him with a “Hey there.”
He turned and smiled, “Hey, how’d that rug work out for you?”
“Great, it’s perfect. Thanks…
I want to talk to you about something that just happened.”
His face fell and his shoulders sank.
“Oh… are you the one… was that for you? The mirror?”
“Yes, that was for me. I am here because I want to make peace.”
He proceeded to defend himself. I told him that I get that mistakes happen and I was not there to discuss what went wrong and why. I was there because he was disrespectful to my design assistant.
I will not be silent and smile and pretend all is well.
He then went on and on about what a good person he is. I told him I get that good people make mistakes. I am very aware of my own mistakes. Good people make bad mistakes. Again, not what I came to discuss.
I was there to make peace.
He gave a half-hearted apology and I figured that was the best I was going to get so I thanked him and asked if we could hug it out. He agreed, we hugged, and I started to walk away.
He stopped me.
He got quiet and serious.
He looked down at the ground and then back up at me.
With a softened heart that showed in his eyes he spoke with sincerity,
“Thank you for coming to talk to me.”
He looked off in the distance and then back at me again,
“You know why?“
“Why?” I whispered because this parking lot suddenly felt like holy ground.
“Because I felt terrible about it. Please give her my deepest apologies.”
We hugged for real and there it was...
forgiveness and peace.
At that moment, I understood why Hamilton moves me so deeply that I have spent more than I can let myself think about to make the pilgrimage to the room where it happens. Twice. As I drove back to our installation the ugly tears came over me again. Hamilton tells the tale of what happens when we choose to forgive and what happens when we choose to hold a grudge. I suddenly understood the power and freedom and life we find when we choose to forgive.
I know because I have been forgiven.
I am the manager.
We are the same.
I have questioned the honesty and integrity of others. I have falsely accused innocent people. I have defended myself when I felt attacked. I have treated others with disrespect. I have made bad mistakes. I have hurt people with my words...the manager and me, we are the same. I get to live in peace and do great things thanks to the forgiveness of others. And my mom always says to whom much is given, much is expected. So, who am I to deny peace to anyone?
The world is wide enough for the manager and me.
The world is wide enough for everyone.
my second pilgrimage with my mom and my son...
( Dear Mr. Miranda, can Cole get some college credit in early American history for this? )
Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr are ’til death do us part rivals. Hamilton is a rule breaker who thinks and speaks at the same time. Burr is a rule follower who thinks before he speaks. Rule followers resent rule breakers. They always have. It’s a story as old as time. It’s prodigalsonian. When they first meet, Burr gives this advice to Hamilton,
Talk less, smile more.
Don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.
You wanna get ahead?
Fools who run their mouths off wind up dead.
The aching familiarity of these words brings tears to my eyes. The fire and brimstone preachers and teachers of my life before I saw the light chastised me with similar words. I question and wonder and think and speak at the same time. Always have. I was taught this is a fatal flaw and a sin. I have long longed to be a Burr. My admiration for the ones who hold their tongues runs deep. I think of these people as the heroes. So when Hamilton reacts with,
If you stand for nothing, Burr, what’ll you fall for?
I am filled with hope.
Could speaking up be a strength and not a weakness?
Could the ones who speak up and break the rules rise up and be heroes?
Could I hope to be a hero?
The magnificence of Hamilton is that we are forced to question everything we believe to be true.
Nathan D Davis noticed that the story starts with a question and ends with a question. All is not as it seems. What we think was white is black, literally and figuratively. Over and over again we see the line between hero and villain blur. We are overwhelmed with a feeling of “wait, WHAT!?”
After Burr shoots Hamilton he sings,
Death doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints,
it takes and it takes and it takes.
In every picture it paints, it paints me with all my mistakes.
When Alexander aimed at the sky, he may have been the first one to die,
but I’m the one who paid for it.
I survived, but I paid for it.
Now I’m the villain in your history.
I was too young and blind to see…
We are left wondering “what do I blindly believe?”
Hamilton leaves us with more questions than answers.
This sounds like the closest thing to truth I have ever heard.
What we do see clearly is...
the path to peace is forgiveness.
Hamilton shatters his wife’s heart and tells the whole wide world about it. Eliza eventually chooses to forgive Alexander for the unimaginable. She somehow finds the beauty in everything and tells the whole wide world about it. From the ashes, we see her rise up and change the world. Her choice brings heaven to earth. Burr will not forgive Hamilton. His bitterness and anger lead to death. His choice brings hell to earth.
We choose. Heaven or hell. Here and now. The choice is ours.
Forgiveness comes more easily when we believe we are all the same.
We see Hamilton and Burr sing side-by-side to their newborn babies,
I’ll make the world safe and sound for you.
You will come of age with our young nation.
We’ll bleed and fight for you, we’ll make it right for you.
If we lay a strong enough foundation we’ll pass it on to you,
we’ll give the world to you, and you’ll blow us all away.
They do not see how this love unites them. At the end of the day, we all want the same things. We all want to love and be loved. We all want to make the world a better place for the ones who follow in our footsteps. We have different ideas about how to get there. But the desire and passion and love are the same. We are the same. There is room for all of our different ideas. We all belong. At the end, Burr sings,
I should’ve known.
I should’ve known the world was wide enough for both Hamilton and me.
The world was wide enough for both Hamilton and me.
the world is wide enough.
christina britt lewis
Lin-Manuel Miranda's words are in italics to give credit where credit is due.
Forgive me if I missed any. His poetry has become such a part of me.
I no longer know where the creator ends and the creation begins.
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