This post was supposed to be a critical analysis.
My intentions were to studiously unpack a Twentieth Century Fox film. It was going to be an impressive reflection of greed, belonging and the concept of new life. It was going to be a challenge to accept, from myself, to keep my intellect sharp.I was going to write an exquisite review about P.T. Barnum’s obvious passion in the 2018 hit musical.
I intended to paint an array of revelation about extraordinary vision with words, explore the role of deep drive, and the concept of pursuit. I wanted to show that crushing obstacles is both terribly necessary and wholly detrimental. But guess what? I can’t do it.
I can’t even use song lyrics to help me communicate, because each line of the soundtrack holds a box of treasure that is too valuable to expose.
The time I allotted to critique the film and create something worthy of impressing the small world of blog-followers has been spent accidentally memorizing every single word to the soundtrack, and swinging from unavoidably expressive joy to wallowing agony.
I have been dancing with my whole heart in the kitchen with friends, and on the sidewalk by myself.
I have eaten snap peas in Starbucks and stared at the wall, numb from the soundtrack.
I have sprinted home wearing skinny jeans and a backpack, just to get on my face and cry without anyone seeing.
Yep. ‘The Greatest Showman’ changed me.
After months of hearing how amazing this movie was, I finally experienced it on a 10 inch Air Canada screen.
Before my travels, I’d had someone ask me “what drives you?” It’s not a one-word-kind of blanket answer. In different areas of my life, with different habits, interests, commitments, beliefs, I am driven by some motivating factor. When I’m honest with myself, some of the most consuming commitments in my life are being driven by fear. That sounds negative. It is. But the more I create space to challenge the way I routinely do things, the more I recognize that there is a beautiful invitation into another way of living.
With the flip of a switch, my will, the very area of my life that is ‘wrong’ can be transformed into the most ‘right’ thing. For a moment, it feels like Phineas at the end of the movie, sitting in the rubble of his show’s building. But in surrender, just as Barnum’s confession to his ‘family’ in ‘From Now On,’ there is possibility to be surprised by the glory of something new built from the ashes of your ‘dreams.’ There is joy in finding a new life-anthem
"Comfort – the enemy of progress." P.T. Barnum
Vaguely, the story has opened a process about "dreams."
I have dreamed of being part of theatrical film production for my whole life. Time and time again I come back to realize this longing, but do little with it. I instead return to where I’ve found certainty.
This movie catalyzed a series of “reactions” in my entire being as they relate to how I engage with my calling in media.
Most excitingly, I’ve found words to satisfy my appetite for understanding the word “calling." I have explored the depths in conversations, and even come across one particularly helpful writing by Bill Creed+ of Ignation Spirituality.
He writes: “I do not really choose my call or my calling. Rather it chooses me. My one choice is whether I listen to it (or ignore it), whether I embrace it (or analyze it for certainty and satisfaction), whether I follow it (or spend my time deciding why I cannot trust this).”
I am beckoned to respond to an ancient call on my life, one that I repressed in the midst of my own pursuits. None of them were "bad," and none "wrong," but the time is now for the one that's been within me from the earliest days to arise. It feels so fresh in its resurrected season. It pushes me for a response.
“...And the only adequate response is an unconditional “Yes.” Often my call challenges me to face the loneliness involved in answering this call. It insists on moving me beyond my self-doubt, beyond my sense of my own inadequacy. Often my call arises from my failures, losses, wounds and even sins. It forces me to attend to my mistakes, my limitations, my hurts, my pain and my sins.” (Bill Creed+)
So, thank you The Greatest Showman. I am changed by your melodies. They transform my anxious mind to a cavern of ideas. You’re a vehicle that’s driven me closer to my calling, and fuelled the next move.
I am marked by indescribable sights and sounds of your production, and creatively activated at just a glimpse of your movements.
I am energized, nourished, and aware more than ever of who I am. And the thing that’s boggling my brains is that I’m fully alive and fully aware of what I’m being invited into while also feeling entirely unable to take any physical leap toward it.
And I’m having fun worshipping the King of Kings through Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman. It’s infused me with enough dopamine to get through this winter.
"Those smiles aren’t fake. It doesn’t matter where they come from. The joy is real." P.T. Barnum