Friday, February 26, 2016

Thoughts On A Friday

Finished Hamilton! If you've been following, you know I have been slogging through the book, Hamilton, by Ron Chernow.  It's a long, heavily researched read, once you get past the revolution, but I made it. The take away:
     Words, the use of language, can and does shape history.  Hamilton was brilliant and without equal in putting ideas down on paper, along with the ways to make those ideas realities. He educated, cajoled, influenced, bullied, and convinced the people of his time into setting up a solid, workable governmental system, along with the banks that would provide the funds necessary for the new country to thrive in the world, through his use of the written and spoken word. He had huge visions, farseeing visions for The United States.  He worked feverishly and was superb at multitasking...before it was called that. But...
    He could not seem to compromise. He could not temper his language, and verbally attacked anyone who opposed his vision. He alienated many people, friends and foes alike.  Because of this one huge fault, probably a result of his having to write and talk his way out of the abject poverty and squalor into which he was born, he lost his son to a duel, his daughter to mental breakdown, his marriage (for a while) and his own life, at the hands of a man who was once a friend.  Things were black and white to Alexander, there were no greys, and he saw himself as always right. He burned too hot, too fast. As long as G. Washington was beside him, recognising his spectacular mental abilities and opening doors for him, he was magnificently effective.
      However, Washington was twenty-five years older than Hamilton, in his forties when the war began (Hamilton was 19) and fifty-seven when he first became president.  He was the buffer Hamilton required, and when Washington left public life, at the end of his second term as president, there remained no one who was able to soften Hamilton's words. You know what happened.
         Who knows how history might have been different, had he lived longer.  When a famous person is cut down at an early age (he was 49 when he was shot), they do not age in our memories. They remain forever young and at the top of their game. Look at Lincoln and Kennedy, both in their fifties when they were shot. We know they had their faults and shortcomings, neither was a saint, but we remember them in the glow of their best moments.
      (Aside: There are few, if any, saints among us. It seems the saints get knocked off the track early on. We all have our weaknesses and faults. But those weaknesses should not define us. Let it be our strengths and the good we have done for the world, that remains after we are gone. Unless you are perfect, I think you will agree.) 
   
     All that being said, I want to go see the musical as soon as I can make it happen.  Here's hoping.
Found this great Youtube link to a couple singing about their journey with the book and the musical, using the tunes from the actual musical. Hilarious. This is how it has been for my daughter and me. youtu.be/YujRcw9umts

     After I finally put the book down, I needed a break. I spent some time outside, but it is only warm enough to not freeze your nose off for a few hours some afternoons. I needed to read a novel, something a little lighter. Tuesday I read The Lake House, by Kate Morton and yesterday I read Twelve Drummers Drumming, by C.C. Benison. Both are mystery novels set in England. They are both good mysteries and a great read.  I tore through them. It felt like decompressing.  I have Chernow's book on John D. Rockefeller on my bookshelf but I think I'll give myself a little space before I start that one.
 J. M. & J.!


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