How to find meaning in chaos? Lean on Art.

If ever there was a time to lean on art it is now. The blend of art and science is a powerful compass for us to navigate through the world we live in. While science is working hard to find the answers, and I’m sure we will, right now we have so much beautiful art that’s at our disposal to help us navigate and find a way through this difficult time. We must embrace it to find meaning and answers. 

For me that came in the form of the magical musical Alexander Hamilton. 

I found some answers and a lot of food for thought, as I sat mesmerised by Lin Manuel Miranda and the rest of the cast. They took me on a timeless journey, where the spirit of humanity shines through and gives me hope. What stayed with me the morning after? 

There is enough space for both of us. Make peace not war. In the song “The World Was Wide Enough” I learnt that rivalry and competition is a great catalyst to spur you on to be your best. It also often brings out the worst in people. The realisation that “there is enough space for both of us” from his arch rival Burr after shooting him in a duel, is a reminder that in difficult times, we should find a way to fight through with a mindset of plenty. For me to win, others don’t have to lose. 

Find a mentor. Better still, be a mentor. “It must be nice to have Washington on your side”. Washington saw something special in Hamilton. Possibly, he also saw in him a skill with the quill that he needed, to scale the heights that he did. Hamilton saw a leader who believed in something and wanted to serve that larger ideal. Reminds me of the importance of helping others and in doing that, helping myself. 

Seek Forgiveness. Better still, forgive someone. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Eliza finds it in her heart to not just forgive Hamilton for all the hurt he caused her, but also goes on to build an orphanage in his memory.  A reminder to me, that as the world is at war with this virus, and we want to lash out and blame someone, we must find a way to make peace with each other. As individuals. As communities. As countries. As a species. For us to thrive and not just survive, kindness to each other is the key. I must find it in my heart to forgive with the foresight that in doing so I help myself and others. 

Shape your story. Better still, help someone share theirs. The pen is mightier than the sword. As a communicator, I completely relate to the importance of framing the narrative – the Reynolds pamphlet, which is Alexander’s way of getting ahead of the allegations of fund misappropriation by coming clean about his affair, is a script that repeats itself across the ages on so many levels. Actions do often speak louder than words, but words have a way of putting actions in perspective. It is a time now for us to use our words wisely and remember that actions we take now will define our future.

Have I done enough with the time given to me? In the song ‘Who lives, who dies, who tells your story’ Eliza asks the question“…and when my time is up, have I done enough?” Something about this phase of the worldwide battle against the virus brings this question very alive to me. Have I done enough? Am I doing enough? The song spurs me on to find ways to contribute meaningfully. To embrace tomorrow with purpose. To do my best. To be my best.

There is so much to learn from history. If only it is made relevant and resonant for all to enjoy. Alexander Hamilton, an unsung hero from the history books of the founding fathers of America, is now sung about around the world. His name and story now have glory, courtesy the musical that tells the tale of how an immigrant made it big on the back of knowledge and the power of his penmanship. 

It is a story about fighting battles both personal and professional and also a battle between countries and communities. It is also the story of love and loss. Of hope and betrayal. Of incredible success and unimaginable loss. Above all it is an immigrant’s story. A reminder that it is an unequal world, and yet the best can and often do rise to the top.

“We’re going to rise up! Time to take a shot. Not throwing away my shot…” is the note of optimism and determination that I would like to end on. “So much of writing is about meeting the moment as honestly as possible” Lin Manuel Miranda said in an interview that I watched. It is our moment in time, as people and as individuals, to ‘rise up’ and meet the moment with honesty. 

N.B As part of the 4th of July weekend celebrations, Hamilton the musical was streaming on the Disney+Hotstar platform. If you have not seen it yet, two hours and forty minutes of magic await you…


The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nikhil Dey
Nikhil Dey is Vice Chair of Weber Shandwick India. Nurturing talent and helping clients achieve their goals is what makes him happy. He loves learning from students of communication, teaching courses and guest lecturing at various educational institutions. When he is not working you will find him on the tennis court or out for long walks with his family and four legged friends.
Nikhil is a certified life and leadership coach (International Coach Federation - ICF).
He can be reached on twitter @deydreaming

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