Ariel wants to be part of that human world, to run and dance and burn things. Dorothy wants to go over that rainbow, not just see it in the sky. And heaven knows we all know by now that Hamilton is not throwing away his shot.
In the traditional “I want” songs in musicals, you never just want to watch what you want. You want to be part of whatever exciting world you’ve glimpsed.
Thanks to the internet, we have access to even more we can’t have, our imagination sparked by all the people and places and things we see. If Ariel were online, you know she would long for Prince Eric to “like” her post about her dinglehopper. Hamilton would be peeved if his videos didn’t go viral.
Nothing shows that new sort of struggle, especially in an online forum, so well as the musical “Dear Evan Hansen.” Evan himself has social anxiety and in his “I want” song, “Waving Through a Window,” he expresses how hard it is to be “on the outside always looking in, will I ever be more than I’ve always been? Cause I’m tap tap tapping on the glass, waving through a window… can anybody see? Is anybody waving back at me?”
All the while, screens surround him showing all the people interacting online in bright, flashing colors. At the same time, it echoes a very real situation that happened to him, when he fell from a tree and it took a long time for someone to come help. As he says, “when you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around do you ever really crash or even make a sound? Did I even make a sound, do I ever make a sound, it’s like I never made a sound. Will I ever make a sound?”
I heartily recommend the show to anyone who would like to follow his journey to finding his voice and his inner peace. In fact, when I saw the show in New York recently, I was overcome with a desire to get up on stage and (in true meta fashion), make my own impact among those trying to make their impact.
Thankfully, I resisted and we did not get thrown out of the theater. But this is a peculiar, particular conundrum for those of us who love our fandoms. We watch it, we love it, but we crave being part of it, too. And so we pay lots of money for photos with the actors or wait at stage doors in the hopes of a selfie. We endure long lines for an autograph. Whether we get one or not, however, ultimately we must come down to reality, where we aren’t on a Broadway stage on the bridge of the Enterprise.
To cope with not being among the stars, we can turn back to the earth – another reason yoga is so great for geeks. In triangle pose, I dig my feet into the mat as I plant one hand on my leg and raise up the other – you can just picture Evan Hansen, planting himself into the ground after he fell, reaching up for help. Or yourself, bound to reality when you long for worlds that are imagined.
But if we set our minds to our lofty “I want” songs, and make ourselves stronger in the process, maybe we’ll be able to reach up a little bit higher.