I’ve been listening to Hamilton a LOT lately. One of the main themes of this musical is the dichotomy between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, as anyone who has heard it could probably tell you.
Hamilton: brash, open, and abrasive.
Burr: soft-spoken, cautious, and diplomatic.
And that leads me to a recurring line Burr has to Hamilton throughout the early parts of the play: “Talk less. Smile more…”
So, you now have an idea what this post is about.
My professor on the trip I took to India back in college told me I have the worst monkey mind of anyone he ever met. Monkey mind is, funnily enough, the opposite of monk mind, in Buddhist parlance.
I was diagnosed with ADHD over fifteen years ago. So I already knew my monkey mind was extreme. Different words for the same thing. Different ways of understanding a concept.
So. Monkey mind. ADHD. Regardless of the name, I think a lot, and in a scattered way. As much fun as I can have in the confines of my skull, I typically run into problems with thinking too much about negative things and memories that hurt me. I’ve also been known to silently recite incredibly damaging affirmations as mantras.
When I was a kid, I would think: I hate so-and-so over and over as I fell asleep at night.
Yes, I was a troubled kid. I probably gave myself all the nightmares I have to this day.
These days falling asleep is still challenging. I no longer deliberately dig pits of hatred in my mind. But I tend monkey mind my way back to events and things I regret. Like how, after my grandfather passed away last year, a few of my aunts suggested I write some words to say for him. I never did. I was too nervous I would fail or sound silly. I worried.
I am a worrier. It’s true. But this is a function of my disorderly mind. My monkey mind.
This is an issue I am beginning another try at tackling.
I’ve devised a new mantra.
“Think less. Breathe more.”
And then, I take a few deep breaths. In through the nose. Out through the mouth. The action draws my focus.
“Think less. Breathe more.”
And that brings me back to Aaron Burr.
I think this character is actually very likable throughout the story. That’s one reason I enjoy the musical so much because Aaron Burr is the foil of the piece the way it is presented.
I often identify with antagonists, villains, and the like. Burr in the play does not strike me as a sympathetic villain, but rather, a sympathetic character burdened by his role of opposition to the protagonist, Hamilton.
Perhaps this is a strike against the play for some. It nearly is for me. But if I can’t love something just because it has a few warts, what does that say about me?
That last sentence reminds me why I need my mantra.
Think less. Breathe more.
Thanks for reading.