Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: life (page 1 of 9)

Who tells your story?

In case I didn’t shout it from the rooftops of social media enough, I married the best of husbands, best of men. He sent me to see Hamilton – I flew out the day after Christmas.

The number one question asked to me is, “was it worth it to see it live?” I mean, if you’ve listened to the soundtrack, you’ve heard 99% of the show. Nearly the entire thing is in song (as is Rent, my other favorite musical I sing to people ad nauseum).

The staging is fantastic and the movement of the choreography makes it worth the ticket price. There’s a hidden character that I’m grateful I read about before I went. The piece is so layered and brilliantly woven that,  as impossible as it seemed to me – having heard and dissected the themes hundreds of times before seeing it – I walked away with a better grasp of (one of) the true questions the story was out to reveal: Who tells your story?

It’s easy to sing, but watching Eliza walk across the stage and explain to the world that she chose to write herself back into the narrative broke me. She told his story, because of love.

Hamilton wanted to Live Big. “Don’t be surprised when you read about me in your history books.” His sense of limited time and limited life drove him to produce and work and drive and create and make change. In the words of 98% of pastors of today, he wanted to “make an impact”. The thought of his legacy drove him toward Bigness.

Yet.

The masses never truly told his story. Wall Street only speaks his name when the news crews are around covering a broadway play. Banks pay little tribute to him. The crowds rarely tell the story, the truest story, the story that captures your heart and not just your numbers.

But Eliza. Eliza. (Yes, I just sang that.) She tells his story. His writings, his soldiers. His heart.

We can do Great Things in this world. We can be World Changers. A Founding Father. A Global Economy Infrastructure Creator. All awesome, much needed. But that doesn’t give you your legacy.

Your love creates your legacy.

Hamilton was far from Perfect Husband (and the show is clear on that one), but he loved his wife and family. And that’s what I packed into my bag to bring home from NYC. You can do everything short of becoming President, and if you don’t love well, it’s not a great story. You can do big, great things for the masses, but if you can’t love the people under your roof, your story is mostly reduced to numbers.

Can I be real a second? Just a millisecond? Let down my guard and tell the people how I feel a second? 

This is hard for me. In the thick of it – convincing toddlers to quietly go (back) to bed or teaching for the 8 millionth time to put things away and treat our things with respect – it seems petty. Miniscule. After the 78th time of interrupting my attempts to put dinner on the table to intervene in a nerf gun war gone awry, I’d much rather turn my attention to the bigger battles of society. Truthfully, I feel like I might make more progress dismantling the patriarchy than my feeble attempts to keep a floor without socks strewn about everywhere. (WHO is wearing all these socks?!)

At the end of my days, even if I manage to cure world hunger, the millions of people fed won’t have my story. It will be told by those who I tuck in each night and by the one who always checks to make sure nothing is in the washing machine. The people who share my table and the deep center of my heart – they will tell my story.

Hamilton convinced me to fill the pages with material for them to tell the best story possible.

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The Birthday of the World

The Birthday of the World

(as told by Rachel Naomi Remen to Krista Tippett in Becoming Wise)

In the beginning there was only the holy darkness, the Ein Sof, the source of life. In the course of history, at a moment in time, this world, the world of a thousand thousand things, emerged from the heart of the holy darkness as a great ray of light. And then, perhaps because this is a Jewish story, there was an accident, and the vessels containing the light of the world, the wholeness of the world, broke. The wholeness of the world, the light of the world, was scattered into a thousand thousand fragments of light. And they fell into all events and all people, where they remain deeply hidden until this very day.

Now… the whole human race is a response to this accident. We are here because we are born with the capacity to find the hidden light in all events and all people, to lift it up and make it visible once again and thereby to restore the innate wholeness of the world. It’s a very important story for our times. This task is called tikkun olam in Hebrew. It’s the restoration of the world.

And this is, of course, a collective task. It involves all people who have ever been born, all people presently alive, all people yet to be born. We are all healers of the world. That story opens a sense of possibility. It’s not about healing the world by making a huge difference. It’s about healing the world that touches you, that’s around you.

 

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Celebrating a birthday in the mourning

Last year I bought myself flowers, for my birthday.  I have historically celebrated a birthday week (or two) and have been known not to do it quietly.  My last year in Troy,  I planned my own GNO party, and even created my own facebook event – this year I did the same with a text picture of yours truly. I’m that person who will try to use every free marketing gimmick in my inbox. (Related: who’s free for Red Robin this month?!)

This might come across sounding quite brattish, as if I make all the noise in order to get people to celebrate me. But that’s not the case. I am surrounded by loving and friends and family who remember me, without my noise. I don’t have to celebrate my own birthday; I get to.

My special day falls amid a string of October dates that my favorite people on this earth marked with black pens. My husband and his family lost his 16-year-old sister suddenly. My best friend buried her mother after a hateful illness. A dear patron saint of our church died abruptly years before we were ready for her to go. Another young boy in our local school system fell to October’s cruel grasp a few years ago. A former employer will face the dreaded two-year mark of grief for her husband. All within this span of 31 days.

Needless to say, no one in my town likes October anymore. Pumpkin spice can’t wash away the bitter taste of loss. My dear friend Kristy says you can step into the crisp morning and smell death in the air.

And here I am, buying flowers and drinking margaritas and asking everyone to smile for the picture. Rude, right?

Living in the wake of loss with those close to me has provided me new wisdom, such as,  people say stupid things from a good heart. “Heaven needed another angel” is at the top of the Don’t Say That list. Folks like me who believe in an afterlife in heaven seek to take comfort in those celestial promises. Of course, they’re “in a better place.” But the distance between there and here hurts. Real bad.

Which can only lead me to one conclusion: life, here, matters. If it mattered little, it would hurt little. The more you love, the more you fill days with joy and curiosity and adventure with other people. And the harder it is to see them end.

So if life, here, matters, then… what? I’m only left with one option: to live it in celebration and in gratitude for another year at living it.

I give my loved ones plenty of space to grieve throughout this horrid month. I really do. I try my hardest to be attentive to the calendar, to give space, to nod in solemn agreement that this sucks. We miss her. Grief knows no expiration date and I’ll never ask others to chipper up for the sake of a party – that’s simply not fair.

What I will do is attempt to honor the lives that left too early by approaching my birthday not with disdain at “getting older” but with appreciation that they keep on coming. I’ve got another year on this globe, so what will I do with it? I’m facing 36, an age that others didn’t get. How can I do it justice?

For me, it’s not skydiving or rocky mountain climbing*, but rather the way in which I sow love into my life. It’s more hugs, more forgiveness, more gratitude. It’s acknowledging another work of art in the sunset from my front porch.

It’s also mandating a friend eat unnecessary amounts of nachos with me. It’s acting surprised when my kids hand me a haphazardly wrapped gift. It’s requesting your parents spend too much money renting a cabin in Hocking Hills for the weekend. It’s drinking one more because “it’s my birthday!”

Not in my honor. But in honor of life. In the honor of the gift of another year, another month, another day. I’ll wear the birthday sombrero for a chance at that. I’ll blow out the candles and hold the hands of people I love, at least one. more. time.

 

 

*Thanks Tim McGraw for setting that up for me so poetically.

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