Julian Reeve is a fascinating specimen. Arguably he’s been involved with one of the greatest cultural phenomenon’s of all time – Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton – and a celebrated music director on Broadway for over a decade. One could argue in terms of profession Reeve was the definition of positive productivity. Yet as he put it, despite being at one hundred and ten percent, Reeve’s world personally would almost come crashing down with an unforeseen heart attack.
The latter convinced Reeve that in spite of his successes he needed a change, to balance the precarious weight of a stress-filled yet fulfilling career in musical theater with his personal life – clearly desperately needing. The philosophy he finalized has since become the subject of his brilliant new creation, the interactive self-help book Captain Perfection & The Secret of Self Compassion: A Self-Help Book for The Young Perfectionist. The secret sauce for the book’s success and influence is not so much what it does, but rather what it doesn’t do. It doesn’t demonize common traits and stereotypes that typical self-help guides throw the baby out with the bathwater.
As a creative person, Reeve is deeply empathetic – particularly, it seems, to the whimsy of children. The point he makes with age-appropriate yet undeniably complex examples is that the freedom of children’s imaginations aren’t to be dismissed as not equally deserving of recognition for multi-layerism. In many ways, one could argue, working in a creative profession requires a willful regression back to being a child. By instilling certain attitudes and precepts into young reader’s minds, Reeve doesn’t shame but rather inspires children to hold onto the sole positivity of their respective neuroses, in effect showing that excess forms of over-contentiousness and attention-to-detail are gifts, not curses. Sometimes, as Reeve shows through an array of illustrations, analogous examples, and checklists, they just need a little adjustment.
It would be inspiring for Reeve to publish anything that evokes compassion and empathy for the everyday highs and lows of the overachiever. The fact he specifically wishes to impart such hard-earned wisdom to children though makes him medal-worthy. After all, who can argue with the insights of a man who worked on Hamilton? If the images subsequently coming to one’s mind don’t make you smile, I don’t know what will. In an era where everything is a zero sum game, particularly when it comes to issues classifiable with the term mental health, it’s refreshing to see someone prominent highlight the gray for a wide audience. Reeve proves perfection doesn’t have to pay a price.
He also argues that the concept of ‘perfect’ is subjective, and that subsequent ‘perfection’ will be a balance of both third-party reception and what is in the eye of the beholder. These are deep concepts, and the fact Reeve knows how to communicate them clearly to children is a testament not only to the craft of his art, but also a testament to the profundity of his heart.