How Taking a Sabbatical is like The Greatest Showman: It Means Taking a Leap

So trade that typical for something colorful

And if it’s crazy, live a little crazy

You can play it sensible, a king of conventional

Or you can risk it all and see

Don’t you wanna get away from the same old part you gotta play’

Cause I got what you need, so come with me and take the ride

If you’ve never watched The Greatest Showman, take 5 minutes and watch this scene now. The background is this:

  • Zach Effron’s character comes from wealth and lives a very upper-class, posh life.
  • Hugh Jackman’s character comes from nothing, was orphaned at a young age, and is trying to start the circus.
  • The show is loosely based on the life of PT Barnum.

In this scene, Hugh Jackman’s character is trying to convince Zach Effron’s character to give up his life of luxury and join him in building the circus:

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with this song. I also love the scene itself, likely because I’m a huge bourbon fan, and I imagine myself doing shots of bourbon with those two!

When I listen to this song, it feels a little uncanny how much I identify with it. The lyrics perfectly parrot the two sides of my brain and how they debate taking a sabbatical. I can just imagine Zach and Hugh sitting on my shoulders, like a devil and angel offering a dialogue.

In this case though, Zach is the rational, logical corporate manager. Hugh is the creative entrepreneur, ready to embrace change and freedom.

Here is what the two sit on my shoulders and say to me.

There is a part of me that says I need a break. I am ready to break free from the corporate job I feel trapped in by taking a sabbatical. I’m ready to give it all up and live a little crazy:

You run with me

And I can cut you free

Out of the drudgery and walls you keep in

So trade that typical for something colorful

And if it’s crazy, live a little crazy

You can play it sensible, a king of conventional

Or you can risk it all and see

On my bravest days, I’m ready to escape my cage:

Don’t you wanna get away from the same old part you gotta play’

Cause I got what you need, so come with me and take the ride

It’ll take you to the other side

‘Cause you can do like you do

Or you can do like me

Stay in the cage, or you’ll finally take the key

Oh, damn! Suddenly you’re free to fly

It’ll take you to the other side

But then the rational, good corporate employee in me says:

Well I hate to tell you, but it just won’t happen

So thanks, but no

I think I’m good to go’

Cause I quite enjoy the life you say I’m trapped in

The person inside of me who has adapted to all of the things society has told us are important says:

Don’t you know that I’m okay with this uptown part I get to play

‘Cause I got what I need and I don’t want to take the ride

I don’t need to see the other side

So go and do like you do

I’m good to do like me

Ain’t in a cage, so I don’t need to take the key

Oh, damn! Can’t you see I’m doing fine

I don’t need to see the other side.

That’s right. I’m not in a cage. I’m doing fine. I don’t need to see the other side. Taking a sabbatical isn’t necessary.

But then, back on my other shoulder, there is a voice, not in my head but in my gut:

Now is this really how you like to spend your days?

Whiskey and misery, and parties and plays

Let’s face it. I do like my whisky. And parties. And plays. Yep, I’m perfectly happy owning my very upper-class life. 

And I worry, if and when I do leave it all behind, what will people say:

If I were mixed up with you, I’d be the talk of the town

Disgraced and disowned, another one of the clowns. 

But then there is that voice again, the calling from my gut that tells me that when I do take my sabbatical:

But you would finally live a little, finally laugh a little

Just let me give you the freedom to dream

And this is exactly where I end up:

Forget the cage, ’cause we know how to make the key

Oh, damn! Suddenly we’re free to fly

We’re going to the other side

I know deep down that when I make the leap, I will be free to fly. I don’t want to be caged in. I’m ready to break free and go to the other side. Taking a sabbatical is the solution.

Now I just need to get there

This post is part of our Sabbatical Sundays series. To read more, click here.

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