Les Miserables is one of my favorite stories of all time. I have seen the musical 10 times, read the book, and listened to the music from the show about 4000 times. I believe that it was my driving music for my brief commute to work for over a year. Jean Valjean embodies love, redemption and courage. When his life is turned by the love and respect shown to him by the priest , I know that anything is possible. When he tells Fantine on her deathbed that he alone will care for her daughter Cosette, I know that true love and commitment is real. Javert is the most beautifully flawed character. As he clings to his ideals and values, he gets lost and is unable to see the humanity in front of him. His suicide scene is filled with tragic passion and despair.
Like Jonathan Larson’s “Rent,” this story has touched so many. And yet, Victor Hugo had no idea when he wrote this extraordinary book that it would become one of the most successful books, films and musicals of all time. As I watch both “Les Miserables” and “Rent” again and again (and I do), I always take a moment to think about the authors and give gratitude to them. Victor Hugo died over 100 years ago and yet his story is timeless. Jonathan Larson died only days from seeing his work become successful. His music tells the most beautiful story of love and friendship.
These are just two examples of greatness and I can list others in politics, business or science. Those who came before us worked so hard to create lasting solutions for the problems of their time. We are the beneficiary of those brilliant minds. In this coming year, I will remember to give gratitude to them and remember what we do here today can last for years to come. It is worth working hard to make life better for us today and for those who will follow.