4 Jan
2018
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The Greatest Showman and Big Dreams

Christopher Reeve dream quote

We were 30 seconds into the motion picture, The Greatest Showman, when I knew this movie was not like all the other movie dates I’ve been on with my children. I stole a look at my children during the opening song. They were leaning forward in their seats completely engrossed with whatever was about to happen on that screen and their faces reflected the magic of what would become one of our favorite films. It was exactly what the movies should be and feel like they fall short of more often than not: original. It was pageantry, fantastic cinematography, choreography, music and magic.

The movie is about a period in the life of P.T. Barnum of Barnum & Bailey Circus fame. I’m not interested in him necessarily (although I do plan on reading more about his life) as much as the message that came through with the movie.

Theater, whether live or film, has always held a special place in my heart. I’m a dreamer with my head a little in the clouds — ideas and adventures constantly tugging at my sensible side. Sometimes I follow through, but mostly they stay in dream form with the risks outweighing the need to jump into an idea. Books and theater have always fed that dreamer in me and nothing grabs my imagination quite like a musical. How I wish life included breakout scenes of choreography and singing instead of talking.

We attempt to show our children that this world is so much bigger than our little nook in it. All the books piled around the house and our traveling are geared toward that lesson. There is so much you can do and be that you can’t see from where we live. The faces that stared at that movie screen were the same ones several years ago who stood awestruck watching street performers in Key West, Florida. They were doing seemingly unreal things, just like P.T. Barnum. I’m not looking to raise anyone with a tilt toward scoundrel, but I do want big dreamers. I remember our oldest telling us he was going to be one of those street performers and “thinking over my dead body.” But that’s not what I told him. This is your one life. Choose well for you, but be prepared for the road to be full of obstacles whether you’re literally jumping through hoops during sunset celebrations for tourists or working a corporate desk job. Nothing changes if no one is willing to look outside the box and take a chance. Be the chance-taker.

I worry about these children like it’s my career. I don’t want them to be hurt, be sad, be in trouble, or make bad choices which has happened and will again and again. I don’t want them to face criticism or money problems. I also don’t want them to regret not doing something simply because there were risks. I’m not saying take unreasonable risk to endanger their lives, but don’t be afraid to love big, dream big and possibly fail big.

I left that theater with chatty children who got the message so beautifully conveyed. It doesn’t matter how or where you start from. You can have a dream and bring it to fruition, even if the world tells you you’re crazy. Dream. Imagine. Change the way people see the world. You won’t get anywhere just sitting there. Believe in yourself. There is nothing like a musical when all the parts and pieces click together. We’ve been listening to the soundtrack for The Greatest Showman for days now on repeat. It’s stuck with us, proving the film cast made something special.

I didn’t even really want to see the movie, even with my love of musicals. I hadn’t heard much about it, but my musically athletic dancer children saw parts of themselves in the trailer they watched. Their imagination was already captured after less than two minutes of a teaser. I asked one of my boys what they enjoyed about The Greatest Showman, and he said, “That they were all so different, and it didn’t matter to the ones that truly loved them.” Find your people because you won’t be for everyone, but there are people waiting for you who will love you for who you are, quirks and all. Just be uniquely you and believe in the possibility of those dreams.

It’s odd how this specific movie affected me. We watch a lot of movies, but this was refreshingly different. The lyrics for the songs speak to me at my mothering roots. I think of those actors, the director, producers and everyone that worked to put that film together. Could they even imagine that in a small theater in the middle of the least populated state in the United States a mother watched her children watch that big screen and saw their imaginations on fire? Did they know how grateful that mother would be for all the time and energy that went into making her hopes for them into an anthem on a big screen? Probably not.


 
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