Hamilton: An Existential Crisis

Hello, I really like musicals and I constantly think about my life’s meaning and purpose.

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Eliza from Hamilton: An American Musical

Okay, rewind. I’m assuming that many people have heard of Broadway’s new hit show Hamilton: An American Musical, however, if you haven’t, I’ll give you a quick explanation. Hamilton is a hip-hop musical centered around the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers. There’s a lot more to the musical, but I’ll leave it there for now, feel free to look it up to learn more or listen to the soundtrack (it’s wonderful).

I absolutely love this musical, the character development, the music, the hidden meanings, the humour, it’s all so great. And I really get into the songs, it doesn’t take a long time for me to memorize all of the lyrics to a song, and then I actually understand what the words mean. You know when you listen to a song and sing along but have no idea what the words really mean? That’s something I am unable to do. I listen to a song over and over to fully understand the message it is trying to send. And boy oh boy is Hamilton filled with meaningful messages (and also unwise choices, looking at you “Say No To This”). However, I have found myself thinking more and more about my own morality when listening to this musical.

The ending song in Hamilton is called “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”. The song begins with: “Let me tell you what I wished I’d known/ When I was young and dreamed of glory/ You have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story” (the line is also in “History Has Its Eyes On You”). Listening to it the first time, I paid attention to the melody, the crescendos and decrescendos, and the different people singing. The second time around, I paid attention to the lyrics, and that’s when it hit me. I have no control who lives, who dies, who tells my story. I paused the song. I sat in my chair. I breathed. My mind raced. Countless thoughts started running through my head (this gets deep, so bare with me). “I and everyone I know and love will die one day, I don’t know how and I don’t know when. Do my actions actually matter? I am one of more than 7 billion people on this earth, who’s going to actually care about what I do. Do I actually have a story to tell? Is my life going to be meaningful?” to name a few.

We have no control over who knows us, who will remember us, who will die, and who will tell our life story – let alone how they perceive us. And to have no control is terrifying. However, at the same time, you have endless control – over your own actions, your words, your aspirations, those who you surround yourself with, etc. You choose what your purpose is, whether it’s one small thing for many big things or a combination of those. You alone make your life meaningful as you live by your values – no one else has control over that. And those who you love and those who love you will remember you and tell others your story. You don’t have to feel as though you’re supposed to have a major impact on the world, because what is you make a major impact on someone else – in their world? Your actions matter indefinitely. You have to live the way you want to – not the way other people want to because then you are not having a life meaningful to you.

I know there may be a lot of repetition in this, but I needed to drive a point home. To quote Sleeping At Last’s Saturn: “How rare and beautiful it truly is to even exist.”

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