On the set of the smash Broadway musical Hamilton, before each and every performance, Chris Jackson leads the cast in pep talk and prayer. “Let’s agree that for the next two and a half hours, this is the most important thing we’ll do in our lives.”
Chris Jackson, for those 2 and a half hours, transforms into George Washington, the founding father par excellence. He was chosen for the role for a pile of reasons, not the least of which was his own natural role as leader. So it is not surprising that every night for the past year, he has taken it upon himself to bring the cast together and start them off right.
Mr. Jackson has struck a chord with me. It has long been told me, by the fathers of the church, by my priests, by wise writers the world wide, that the most important moment is the one directly in front of me, the one that is about to be written into the history books indelibly. That the world hangs upon the next words that I allow to slip through my lips, on my very next steps. That my neighbor, as the scriptures refer to him, is the one standing before me right now, and my opportunity to love him as I love myself is right now, and not a second later.
This actor morphing each night into our country’s greatest leader is not just giving the team huddle pep talk, but an eternal truth that we would all do well to take in a little deeper. Life is now. We are now. Our mission, no matter how humble or how grand, must boil down to right now. We cannot work for a better world if we dismiss the needs directly in front of us. We cannot do great things if we don’t start with this moment, with this person. There is nothing more pressing. This is it.
As Chris/George would state so eloquently a bit later in Act I, while working to convince Alexander Hamilton that he might want to consider his actions a bit more carefully, “History has its eyes on you.” Oh, that we would all live as though our biographers were watching.
A little self-flogging may be in order,
* Photos courtesy of Emily