What I take away from watching the filmed version of ‘Hamilton’

Lines from a Broadway musical deeply affected this columnist with DMD

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by Shalom Lim |

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Last week, my girlfriend and I caught the 2020 filmed version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s award-winning Broadway production “Hamilton.” The recording, which we watched on Disney+, featured the original cast performing at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City.

Exactly a month ago, we attended a live performance of the musical with SMA News Today columnist Sherry Toh and a mutual friend, at the Marina Bay Sands here in Singapore. That production featured an ensemble of understudies to the current Broadway cast.

This time as I watched it, I paid greater attention to the script, which prompted an intimate connection to many of the lines, particularly those delivered by the main character, Alexander Hamilton.

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The first line that stood out to me was from the opening song, “Alexander Hamilton,” sung by Miranda: “And there’s a million things I haven’t done/ But just you wait.” This resonated with me because as a Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patient and survivor, time is not on my side. However, as a human, I still have dreams I want to achieve.

While my background is very different from Hamilton’s, I still have several items on my bucket list that I want to do before my time inevitably ends due to the progression of DMD. Hamilton achieved a lot by the age of 19. I’m turning 29 soon and feel like I still have more to achieve. Hamilton’s story inspires me to scale greater heights, beyond what I’ve already achieved, which includes raising funds for my fellow muscular dystrophy patients in Singapore through a childhood painting career and winning two awards for my advocacy.

Other lines that moved me came from the iconic song “My Shot” — “I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory” — and “Wait for It” — “Death doesn’t discriminate/ Between the sinners and the saints/ It takes and it takes and it takes/ And we keep living anyway.”

Death is no stranger to me. I lost my brother to DMD four years ago, and several friends over the years from the Muscular Dystrophy Association (Singapore). I nearly met my own demise twice. When I was dealing with depression in 2021, death was all I could think about. Sometimes it feels like a memory or a friend waiting to meet me at the end of my time here on Earth.

Those last two lines I mentioned from the musical brought to mind my own fate with Duchenne. Death may be an eventuality most people dread, but to me, it’s nothing to fear. It’s a reckoning we all must face one day. All we can do is to keep living, which is what I hope I’m doing by writing about DMD.

One other line that spurred my emotions was from “Non-Stop“: “Why do you write like you’re running out of time?”

The quantity of my writings so far is a drop in the ocean compared with the voluminous essays penned by the prolific Hamilton by the time he was the same age as I am now. But in a way, I face a similar situation to the one he had all those years ago. I have so much to say that I haven’t said yet, things I wish the world knew about me, my life, and my DMD community. But again, is there enough time to do it? To me, the answer is that I can achieve it if I write like there’s no time.

Overall, I am inspired by the story of Hamilton as portrayed in Miranda’s musical. While he wasn’t perfect, Hamilton’s legacy lives on in may ways. That encourages me to be a better version of myself.

Note: Muscular Dystrophy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.


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