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Dear Evan Hansen — “Waving Through a Window”

“Waving Through a Window”

I’ve learned to slam on the brake
Before I even turn the key
Before I make the mistake
Before I lead with the worst of me
Give them no reason to stare
No slipping up if you slip away
So I got nothing to share
No, I got nothing to say

Step out, step out of the sun
If you keep getting burned
Step out, step out of the sun
Because you’ve learned, because you’ve learned

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
I’m waving through a window
I try to speak, but nobody can hear
So I wait around for an answer to appear
While I’m watch, watch, watching people pass
I’m waving through a window, oh
Can anybody see, is anybody waving back at me?

We start with stars in our eyes
We start believing that we belong
But every sun doesn’t rise
And no one tells you where you went wrong

Step out, step out of the sun
If you keep getting burned
Step out, step out of the sun
Because you’ve learned, because you’ve learned

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
I try to speak, but nobody can hear
So I wait around for an answer to appear
While I’m watch, watch, watching people pass
Waving through a window, oh
Can anybody see, is anybody waving?

When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around
Do you ever really crash, or even make a sound?
When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around
Do you ever really crash, or even make a sound?
When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around
Do you ever really crash, or even make a sound?
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?
Did I even make a sound?
It’s like I never made a sound
Will I ever make a sound?

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
I try to speak, but nobody can hear
So I wait around for an answer to appear
While I’m watch, watch, watching people pass
Waving through a window, oh
Can anybody see, is anybody waving back at me? (oh)
Is anybody waving?
Waving, waving, whoa-oh, whoa-oh

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Benj Pasek / Justin Paul

Dear God, you know that this musical really hit me. Of course, it doesn’t have a spiritual angle to it, but in so many ways you are the answer to the questions people are asking and the loneliness they are facing. One thing I like about this musical is that it doesn’t just look at the story from the students’ views. And it doesn’t just look at it from the parents’ views. While everyone comes into the story touching just one part of the elephant, the audience has the unique perspective of getting to see, while maybe not the entire elephant, multiple parts.

This song is sung by the main character, Evan Hansen, but it coupled be sung by any of them. Conner, Conner’s sister, his parents, Evan’s mom (and even his dad), his friends, etc. Every person in that audience, no matter how popular they were in high school, could identify with this song. I know I could.

So let’s begin looking at it verse by verse, the chorus, and then the bridge.

I’ve learned to slam on the brake
Before I even turn the key
Before I make the mistake
Before I lead with the worst of me
Give them no reason to stare
No slipping up if you slip away
So I got nothing to share
No, I got nothing to say

My first thought is the quote often attributed to Mark Twain: “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt.” In this case, so many of us just don’t want to stand out in the crowd and be thought a fool. That’s why only a few will answer group questions. Just keep your head down and stay off the radar of others–especially bullies.

Also, the part about just not participating because of fear. I’ll confess that I’ve needed people in my lie to push me out of my comfort zone. From parents getting me to do things when I was little to my wife getting me to do things as an adult, I’d rather stay in the relative safety of my own little carefully constructed world. And I had to play that role for my children when they were younger and I need to play it for my wife now. I remember getting pressure from my dad to get a job. The application process alone was intimidating. But it had to be done and I needed that push. That skill served me well later in life when I needed to find a job. Then came my turn to pressure my children to get jobs. They didn’t like it and there was conflict, but they learned.

Last Wednesday, I was at my mentoring session with the sixth grader I mentor when I saw another mentor who is a friend. He mentioned that his mentee is an awkward boy who gets bullied a lot. They normally meet together on a different day, but when I saw them that day I remembered the boy from last year. I saw him each week. He’s a sweet boy, but he is certainly developmentally delayed in some way. I’m glad he has my friend, but I’ve thought about him all week. Seeing him and knowing what he went through took me back to those feelings with my son. . Oh, it hurts to remember. Is there anything I can do to help this boy? I’ve even though about getting my mentee to look out for him, but I’ve also wondered if my boy is one of the bullies. Give me wisdom when we meet next week to know if there is anything I can do to help this situation.

We start with stars in our eyes
We start believing that we belong
But every sun doesn’t rise
And no one tells you where you went wrong

One of the hardest things to do as a parent is send your kids to school that first time. Really, to send them anywhere. Even Sunday school. You’ve had them in a controlled environment that has hopefully been nurturing and loving. Then they go into the world thinking that the rest of the world will treat them the same way, but you know there is pain ahead. You just hope that they will learn to deal with that pain and that it will make them stronger. That would be one of the arguments against homeschooling–that children need to experience the positives and negatives of socialization. Of course, one argument for home school is that it will keep them from being exposed to too much too soon. Both arguments have their good points. Oh, how we just hope it turns out okay.

For my part, I’m still not sure what the final results of my children’s childhoods will be as they become adults. I feel like I am still watching them bake in the oven. I suppose they’ll never stop. I’m still baking too. But this verse starting with the description of Evan’s self confidence eroding into self-doubt through rejection is powerful imagery.

Step out, step out of the sun
If you keep getting burned
Step out, step out of the sun
Because you’ve learned, because you’ve learned

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
I’m waving through a window
I try to speak, but nobody can hear
So I wait around for an answer to appear
While I’m watch, watch, watching people pass
I’m waving through a window, oh
Can anybody see, is anybody waving back at me?

There’s an interesting juxtaposition between getting out of the sun and presumably going in and then being on the outside, always looking in. I supposed that a lot of us do get conditioned to just stop trying. We’ve been burned too many times. But when we stop, we are left with this sense of loneliness and longing.

One of the things that spoke to me in this musical is the barriers that all of the characters feel. The parents feel like they can’t get to their children (the first song, “Does Anybody Have a Map?“). The children, for their part, feel like they can’t get, really I suppose, to themselves. Evan cannot be comfortable with himself and who he is with others. He feels alone. He feels like who he is as a person is keeping him from others. It’s a barrier he doesn’t know how to overcome. I suppose at some point in these prayer journals I will need to get into the irony of social media connecting and isolating us at the same time, but that will be for another song. For now, I can just feel Evan’s loneliness.

When you’re falling in a forest and there’s [slight chuckle] nobody around
Do you ever really crash, or even make a sound?
When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around
Do you [slight chuckle] ever really crash, or even make a sound?
[emotion builds] When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around
Do you ever really crash, or even make a sound?
[emotion builds more] 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?
Did I even make a sound?
It’s like I never made a sound
Will I ever make a sound?

I added some tone-of-voice descriptions to this section. It’s interesting that he kind of chuckles at a couple of points in the first two lines. If you haven’t seen the musical you won’t get the forest reference, but he’s recalling how he broke his arm by falling out of a tree in the forest. He describes at the beginning how he kept waiting for a ranger or someone to find him, but no one ever came so he had to go and find someone.

His life feels so insignificant, he is taking that metaphor (and the famous existential question about a branch falling in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound) and applying it to his entire life. Is anything that I do consequential?

At the end of the bridge, the last four lines overtly personalize it. Did I make a sound? I have no evidence that I have made a difference in anyone’s life. Will my life ever matter?

Of course, It’s a Wonderful Life teaches us how our lives ripple through history. And teenagers are famous for wondering about their meaning in life while simultaneously wanting everything done for them. We’ve all been there. As an adult now, I’ve learned through you that the meaning in my life is found in giving of myself. In fact, in November, I was listening to an interview Charlie Rose did with Fred Rogers. Mr. Rogers gave this quote that I wrote down: “Have you ever know anybody who was really satisfied or happy who had never made a difference in somebody else’s life?” The answer to this question really does wash away a ton of emptiness.

Father, I am here to worship you and give your love to others. If I am not about doing those two things then my life will be empty. “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40) That’s what Jesus said. It’s really that simple. Oh, Holy Spirit, help me to do these two things for the glory of the Father, the Son, and your glory as well.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2020 in Dear Evan Hansen, Hymns and Songs

 

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