The Sandbox

Amnesia, Art, Healing




I mustered up the courage and sent my one page complaint summary to a friend for review. I need to move this show along I think. And getting some feedback or showing it to someone in my world, seems to help me move in the direction of shedding light onto my story. 

I think about it all this morning, the finding of my narratives, the one from long ago, the one too about the awful therapy that confused me for so long—I think about getting clear. I think about how shedding light onto your story helps you to find more of it and to hold more of it as you go. It is a process, allowing yourself to bubble up and over, finding yourself in that mix, ordering it, making sense, sipping then swallowing your story then sharing it, then swallowing some more. 

And doing it all over again. 

I think about narrative, about how I write to find mine, and I think about the musical, Hamilton, that we were lucky enough to go to yesterday. Lucky in that we have a friend in the orchestra, otherwise we never would have been able to get tickets, nor would I have ever been inclined to try. 

But we were lucky…and as it turns out, how could I not, in the end, resonate so deeply with the story’s protagonist, Alexander Hamilton, a writer who wrote prolifically and compulsively--desperately as if he were always "running out of time."

And as much as I can relate to this compulsion and drive and thousands of pages, a drive for me to catch-up, to discover and to make up for so much lost time, what overshadowed the evening for me was a bracing around the ending.

Hamilton's ending. 

Every night this show plays, Hamilton will die his senseless death over and over again. 

Every night Hamilton's life will be the price paid to settle a relatively petty earthly argument. His life will be carelessly offered up and paid to settle an argument with Aron Burr. 

Everyone knows how this story ends. Every night it ends the same way. There is no other way to tell it I thought. 

Which is one reason I was hesitant to even go. 

I remember when our friend first got the job. And I knew nothing about Alexander Hamilton. I remember gong online, researching his death, reading the details of the duel. There was something extremely uncomfortable, something resonant that seemed to be swimming in my bloodstream, something about the lack of spontaneity, something about the planned, methodical, “thoughtful” settling of a disagreement by risking one’s very own life. 

I wondered about it well before I went to Hamilton and again now too as I type my way through it, if there is something about the coming together of two people, about one of them living and one dying, about that dyad. It speaks to me, tells me it’s important and pushes me to slow down and to think. 

And when I do slow down I remember as a small child being told that Russian roulette games were being played somewhere in the neighborhood where my father’s shoe store was located. I remember the same chill, the same being unable to forget the image and the feeling of resonance I felt with it all. The cold, calm calculation, the putting one’s own life up on to the table as something you would be willing to bet—to risk—the muzzle of a gun held up to each person’s head, each round, the willingness to bet one’s own life for, in this case, some money. 

Or in the case of Hamilton vs. Burr, to win an argument—to make a point. 

Hamilton risked his life to prove a point—and lost. 

The bleakness in the theater took hold of me last night, this feeling somehow that I’ve flown too close to my end in a way that's similar. I can feel it coursing throughly blood and I wonder if this is from my being so exposed to the possibility of death by suffocation, my narrative, my horrible narrative, trying so hard, especially over these years to finally surface screaming at me. 

It is just me…and Z…and he is trying to kill me. 

Just the two of us. 

Could it be that this is that duality…that duel…that haunts me?

My life in the balance for…what? For settling an argument about…a game of cards? About calling him a name he did not like? 

It is in my bloodstream, this payment, my life a payment, the price I could have easily paid. 

I become less scared as I tap away this morning, less scared and more angry. Less grateful to Z for allowing me to live another day and more angry for leaving me tainted, wounded, limping. He has poisoned my bloodstream; he is an echo I cannot stop hearing. 

And I am transported from my deep past back to the theater, yesterday, bracing for the predictable ending to Hamilton.

And there it is, the point towards which everything moves, these two trajectories heading towards a crash where only one will leave. 

They slow the moment down in the theater.

The music stops. 

Hamilton dies. 

But this not the end of this story. 

This musical chooses not to end with Hamilton's end. 

But rather, from out of nowhere Eliza Hamilton, his wife and widow emerges. 

Into the light. 

From her husband’s death, from his affairs, from her son’s death—she emerges.

And lives. 

For another fifty years. 

And oh Not Gods does she make the most of it. 

Hamilton wraps with a list of Eliza Hamilton’s accomplishments, a marriage of what she wished to do with the rest of her life and also the flame she carried for Hamilton. 

And I find myself in that theater deeply moved, crying, left with the message that it is wisdom to stay alive and blessing to be alive. And to make the most of the time you are given. 

I’ve been given my life—back—more than once. More than twice. And I vow to make my truth this morning, my life hanging in the balance over and over and over again, another big fish I will not let swim away, another huge truth that will inform me, heal me, help me to make my world and the world around me a better place. 

A link to the finale