It’s been a “Dear Evan Hansen” kind of month. The kind that hurts and shakes your fiery resolve and makes you want to hide and disappear. Life can be like that. Most of the people I know have had moments like this. I suspect most people do, we just get very good at hiding it. It may be fun to watch drama on television and in movies, but in real life, it is not so fun.
I actually don’t usually choose to watch dramas. Not that I don’t get sucked in when I do, but I try to avoid them if possible. My standard line is, “I don’t need to watch a movie to feel pain, I have real life for that.”
I’m a big broadway girl. It’s not just the booming ballads and the dance scenes I love. It’s the stories. They are my dramas. They tell of the pain of life, the hardships, and the trials. But usually, there is hope. Not unrealistic fairy tale hope like the Hallmark movies I also love, but hope in the midst of the mess. It’s drawing strength from the struggle. As you have probably guessed, my latest soundtrack binging is “Dear Evan Hansen”. It’s the story of loss, but also a journey of hope. It is a message I find myself clinging to these days.
I don’t know why it seems that some people float through life on a silver carpet, out of reach of the hurts so many of us face. It certainly doesn’t seem fair. I have seen too many of my friends lately watching children and adults battle cancer, some leaving us far too early, watching parents battle dementia, loved ones coping with mental illness, divorce, or substance abuse, political injustice and intolerance or just chronic illness. It makes me want to shake my fists at the sky and scream why?!! It seems to be everywhere and tarnish everything we touch. It has touched so many of my friends lives lately, as well as my own. It has left me weak and sad and seeking solace in the power of music.
I have a lot of go to power songs from Broadway. Some are well know, like “Defying Gravity” which is a personal favorite. I particularly like this version. It is even more appropriate now, because I can sing it not only figuratively about life, but literally as I fight gravity to stay walking tall.
That irony occurred to me recently as I listened to the song as part of a 3 hour MRI series requiring stillness. I was delighted that I had the option to listen to the Broadway genre! What I failed to consider was that I never sit still when listening to these songs. I’m either dancing or walking along with the beat, or singing along at the top of my lungs. Sadly, all of these things are frowned upon during the MRI experience. So I listened. I listened intently to the messages. Some fun, some poignant, some powerful. I tried to take in all the lessons I could from them.
OK, truth be told, that was probably only for the first 20 minutes, and the last 45 minutes. I pretty much dozed in and out of the rest of the time. But the songs still wove their way through my mind and soul. The right song has a way of doing that.
There have been many lovely things that happened in the last month; visits with family, publishing my first children’s books, being interviewed by a classmate for our writing class, putting on a show in 3 ½ days with the kids I love to work with. They were glorious moments indeed!
But there were also painful ones; the pain of being alone, the isolation of illness, the aftermath of pushing too hard, the pain of lots of cheers for my books, but only one sale (I might need to reevaluate my plan that I will be a viral success overnight ;) ), making the decision to not go to the auditions for the summer theatre I adore because of my new condition, having no one other than family members of the kids come to see it their beautiful show, realizing that even with a price decrease my house isn’t selling, and watching all the options the sale of the house would provide evaporate like the incessant rain, when it finally takes a break. Not to mention dropping my laptop and cracking the screen. It’s enough to make “Waving through a Window” become your theme song.
“Waving Through A Window” by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul from the Broadway Musical “Dear Evan Hansen”
I've learned to slam on the brake
Before I even turn the key
Before I make the mistake
Before I lead with the worst of me
Give them no reason to stare
No slipping up if you slip away
So I got nothing to share
No, I got nothing to say
Step out, step out of the sun
If you keep getting burned
Step out, step out of the sun
Because you've learned, because you've learned
On the outside, always looking in
Will I ever be more than I've always been?
'Cause I'm tap, tap, tapping on the glass
I'm waving through a window
I try to speak, but nobody can hear
So I wait around for an answer to appear
While I'm watch, watch, watching people pass
I'm waving through a window, oh
Can anybody see, is anybody waving back at me?
I've learned that getting sick and fighting my condition has changed a lot of things about me, but my same old insecurities still bubble up to the surface in the right conditions. Life has a way of feeling so much bigger when we are already feeling small. Once the seed of discouragement and doubt begins, it grows like the children's toys that expand when put in water. It makes life feel overwhelming.
But there is another song in “Dear Evan Hansen”. It’s called “You will be found”, also by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
“Have you ever felt like nobody was there?
Have you ever felt forgotten in the middle of nowhere?
Have you ever felt like you could disappear?
Like you could fall, and no one would hear?
Well, let that lonely feeling wash away
Maybe there’s a reason to believe you’ll be okay
‘Cause when you don’t feel strong enough to stand
You can reach, reach out your hand
And oh, someone will come running
And I know, they’ll take you home
Even when the dark comes crashing through
When you need a friend to carry you
And when you’re broken on the ground
You will be found
So let the sun come streaming in
'Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again
If you only look around.
You will be found,
You will be found
You will be found.”
Sometimes it is my dogs that come running when I return from an errand, or it’s my cat curling up on my lap, or maybe it’s the joy in my students eyes, even if it is only for a 3 ½ days. It's the kids parents as they swooped in to help clean up and transport all the many items needed to put on a show. I’m sure the sun will remind me as well, if it ever stops raining. Sometimes it is someone I just met through a writing class I am taking, that has a kind word and encouragement to remind me that I am not alone. The point is, they are there. I just sometimes become so overwhelmed by my circumstances and emotion that I stop seeing them. But they ARE there.
As I wrote this, my doctor called with my MRI results. I have an appointment with him in 3 weeks. He didn’t need to call. But he is an amazing, caring, person. He took the time to call to tell me there were no new lesions. Only my optic nerve, and I kind of already knew was still a problem just from day to day life. I hope I can find the way to express to him how much it means to me that he took his own time to make that call to me. Then I got a message from my beloved theatre. They are willing to work with me so that I can be a part of a show this August. I was prepared to let it go. My brain totally understood that. But they are still letting me be a part of it. That means more to me than they will ever know. Or maybe they do, and that’s why they did it. Whatever the reason, it fills an empty part of me with hope for which I am forever grateful. I also sent a message to check in on a very dear, old friend of mine. Not only did she fill me in on her life, but she managed to lift me up in the process.
The refrain of the song echoes in my mind. “You are not alone, You are not alone”…
One of the assignments for my writing class is writing a piece using a bulleted list. It certainly isn’t my normal writing style, but I know what I am going to do. “10 ways to help pull yourself out of a funk”. I already have 6 or 7 ideas. I am going to put them all into practice on myself, and search for three more to add to the list. One of my seven is to write about it and share your thoughts with someone. Thank you for letting me share my thoughts and feelings with you. By reading this, you have made more of a difference that you will ever know.
Listening to an encouraging playlist is going to be #1. I will be sure to recommend, "You are not alone".
May we all never forget “You are not alone….”
If you didn't take the time to watch it before, I urge you to do so now.
Watch, listen, and be encouraged. You are not alone.