The 70th Annual Tony Awards on Sunday evening were clouded in tragedy. The ceremony, which took place at The Beacon Theatre in New York, saw presenters lamenting a terrorist attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida over the weekend--which left at least 50 dead, and 53 wounded. (The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the tragedy, which is noted to be the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.)
"Theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality and gender is equal, is embraced, and is loved," said James Corden, the actor and host of the event, in his introduction. "Hate will never win. Together, we have to make sure of that. Tonight's show stands as a symbol and a celebration of that principle."
Others, like actor Frank Langella, also nodded to the harrowing incident. Perhaps the most compelling words came from Hamilton playwright and composer Lin-Manual Miranda. In his tearful acceptance speech for Best Original Score, he started by thanking his wife, Vanessa Nadal: "My wife's the reason anything gets done," he said. "She nudges me towards promise by degrees. She is a perfect symphony of one; our son is her most beautiful reprise."
Miranda then expressed grief and anguish over the Orlando shooting, in the form of a powerful sonnet:
We chase the melodies that seem to find us until they're finished songs and start to play when senseless acts of tragedy remind us that nothing here is promised, not one day. This show is proof that history remembers. We will live through times when hate and fear seem stronger. We rise and fall, and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer and love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside. As sacred as a symphony Eliza tells her story. Now fill the world with music, love and pride. And thank you so much for this.
In many ways, his speech echoed Steve Jobs' 2005 commencement address at Stanford University. "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life," Jobs said. "Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose."
Both speeches send a strong message that life is finite. Miranda reminds us that even as society evolves, "senseless acts of tragedy remind us that nothing is promised."
To that, we should also keep in mind what Jobs conveyed--which was to live every day as if it could be your last, so you should do what drives you with love and passion.