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Like many on the wing, I just returned from leave. I had a great time – thanks for asking! My wife and I inflicted ourselves on our son and daughter-in-law back home in Ontario for almost three weeks! During our time with them, we did such touristy things as visiting Old Fort Erie, Fort Niagara (with the inevitable shopping in the US my wife so loves – I’d rather have hot oil poured in my eyes), seeing Prince Caspian at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and – a first for me – yet another play. This time, we went to Toronto and saw Hamilton (the play not the city).
Now, it may surprise – nay, shock! – you to discover that I’m not much of a musical theatre kind of guy. We once went with friends to see Wicked – and to say I was unimpressed would be an understatement. In fact, I hated the entire 12 hours (or what felt like 12 hours).
So, let’s just say I was not entirely looking forward to seeing Hamilton (the play, not the city). And initially, my low expectations seemed to be borne out: surely Alexander Hamilton and George Washington would not rap! Certainly, they were dressed in period costume, but the show seemed quite ahistorical to me. I sank into my comfortably padded seat and waited for intermission.
However, mirabile dictu (“wonderful to relate” – I thought I’d bring up the tone), I very quickly was sucked into not only the story of Alexander Hamilton and his rise in American Revolutionary politics, but the music as well. This was unexpected. And then King George III came out – a wonder! He became my favourite character with his impish grin, and sly confidence that they (the colonies) “would be back!” And I realized, as the author of the play, Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote, that they play was about “America then, as told by America now.” By the end, I was standing with the rest of the audience in applause.
And I still can’t get it out of my head. If I could go see it again, I would without hesitation. And this just goes to show you that – despite my initial low expectations and lack of enthusiasm to see a ‘musical’ – often, if you embrace new things and experiences, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Oh, to be sure, not all new experiences are pleasant – basic training certainly couldn’t be described as such. But even unpleasant experiences may teach us things about ourselves, the world, and what we can achieve if we try (jumping off a rappel tower was not high on my ‘To Do’ list, but I did it and even enjoyed it – a little).
If the only things we do are things at which we’re already competent, or things that we know we’ll enjoy, then we close ourselves off to so much wonder, joy, and discovery. After all, everything you enjoy now was once brand new (chocolate, shrimp, water skiing, snowboarding, coffee (!), my writing….). Embrace new experiences, new people, new places (maybe you’re new to Cold Lake, for instance.)
Embrace the new. You may be pleasantly surprised. After all, if I hadn’t gone, I wouldn’t have known how much I enjoyed Hamilton (the play, not the city).