Like many families, mine has Hamilton fever.
My husband and sons sing the song lyrics in the car. My older sons sings from Hamilton: The Revolution while he waits for us to leave for school. And, of course, we saw Hamilton: An American Musical on stage in Chicago.
Recently, we had the pleasure of seeing Hamilton for a second time in Chicago. It was amazing. It was glorious. And, it was brilliant. All over again. With the second viewing, I walked away with a new appreciation for certain moments of staging, for certain lyrics sung by its stars, and for certain lessons gleamed from it all.
Seeing Hamilton spurred lots of dialogue, questions and debates among my family, which in my book is always a good thing. It got us thinking about the hardships of life back then, the pressing issues of the time, the roles of our founding fathers and, yes, the need to “put women in the sequel.” And, it got us talking about the important lessons we learned after a few hours watching the performance.
Here are four lessons families can learn from watching Hamilton:
1. You need to stand for something. From the very start of the show, Alexander Hamilton takes issue with Aaron Burr’s inability to take a stand. And, he continually chastises him for being content to stand on the sidelines – not picking a side, not standing for an issue. For Hamilton, it’s inconceivable that someone could be passive – and not be passionate about pressing personal and social issues. To me, it’s because of Hamilton’s passionate fervor for freedom – and his cunning prose – that earned him the spot as George Washington’s “right-hand man.”
2. Time is precious so make the most of it. At several times during the show, we see Hamilton furiously penning letter after letter, document after document. As he does, the chorus erupts into the refrain that asks Hamilton the important question – “Why do you write like you’re running out of time?” We know that Hamilton lived a relatively short life, dying at 47 (while his wife lived 50 more years than him). But, Hamilton did a lot in that time – thanks to living each moment and each day to its fullest. And, that’s an example a lot of us could benefit in following in our own lives – today.
3. The impact you make each day is just as important as your legacy. In the end, it seemed like Hamilton’s intense focus on his legacy brought upon his downfall. He penned a tell-tale document, the Reynolds Pamphlets, to prove himself innocent of a scandal that involved unpaid back wages intended for Revolutionary War veterans. But, in doing so, he negatively impacted the lives of his son and his wife – and dashed his chances of ever bring president (as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison celebrate during one point of the musical). While our legacies and personal reputations are of the upmost importance, we can’t lose sight of the impact of our choices stand to have on others. In the end, what good is a solid reputation if it’s not built on a strong foundation that helps raise others up, too?
4. Need to bathe in the beauty of today. These days, it seems like we’re always on the run. Running to school. Runnning to work. Running to appointments. Running to committments. And, it’s easy to become mired down in the details. In the appointments. In the homework. But, I know we need to pause – and heed Eliza’s sage advice to “look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.” We need to acknowledge we have enough since we have each other – and the good times we share together.
Have you seen Hamilton: An American Musical? Do you listen to the music? What are your favorite lessons from the show? Share your thoughts in the comments below.