Today is International Women’s Day and it has prompted me to put down in writing something that has been circling in my brain so often lately. I am not a person who cries weekly at This Is Us (it has only gotten me once thus far). I’m not really a crier to be honest, unless it is the kind of crying that comes with embarrassment or anger which I absolutely hate. But there is a song from Hamilton that gets me every time I sing it. Every time. In a house filled with Hamilton lovers, its impact should have been dulled by now, but still it persists.
The play is obviously about Alexander Hamilton, but this closing song is largely about his wife Elizabeth and what she did to preserve HIS legacy, but in doing so she left quite an outstanding legacy of her own. In a time when women had far fewer rights and resources, she accomplished SO much, not just for Hamilton, but also for Washington, for many soldiers, for slaves, for orphans. Hamilton may have been in the inspiration, but the work, the DOING of it…it was all Eliza. Hamilton sought to leave HIS mark, to create HIS legacy, but Eliza left an amazing legacy through her dedication to others.
I listen to this song and think, what am I DOING with my life? There are so many open doors to us in this moment. There are so many ways we can use our voices and our actions to do things that matter, for ourselves and for those who don’t have the same opportunities. It is so easy to let our lives be swallowed up by things that do not matter, the things that our society seems to value so highly right now that are nothing but dust that will blow away when we do. There is so much focus on trends and new cars and bigger houses and things that occupy space until they end up in a landfill. I don’t want to live a disposable life that leaves no trace behind, I want to leave a legacy like Eliza…a legacy not focused on myself, but dedicated to the service of others. I want to plant seeds in a garden, even if I never get to see them grow…and I want them to be seeds that grow to feed others.
I’m not sure how to accomplish that, honestly. It is a work in progress. I try to invest in the people around me, to love people well even in passing, to raise children who will do the same, to use my voice and my actions not only for my good but for the good of others. It’s not enough. Maybe by the time my time is up, it will be. It is something that I grapple with regularly, but today seemed like a good day to verbalize the inspiration, the goal, and the struggle of it all.
Here’s to strong women,
May we know them,
May we be them,
May we raise them!