Thursday, May 24, 2012

WAITING . . . . . .

Once, long ago, I read “Waiting for Godot,” a two-act play by Samuel Beckett. I remember being impatient with it, and with the author for wasting my time. If I read it again, now that I am older and have the perspective of more years, I doubt that I would feel any more edified by it than I did the first time I read it. The play is about two self-engrossed, self-pitying male characters, Vladimir and Estragon, waiting for someone named Godot to come and make a difference in their empty boring lives. While they are waiting, Pozzo and Lucky come along. The addition of the two other characters is only a momentary distraction for Vladimir and Estragon.  Nothing changes. The second act, which occurs the next day, is only slightly different from the first act, being an echo.

Two years ago, I watched a film titled, “Waiting for Superman.” It was about the wretched state of public school education in the United States, and the potential for certain charter schools, such as the Harlem Children’s Zone, to make a difference. The title is a reference to how frightened he felt when Geoffrey  Canada’s  mother told him, when he was a child, that Superman wasn’t real:  there was nobody to save him.

Waiting for Godot, or for Superman, are metaphors for expecting that someone else will solve our problems for us, or save us.

Most of us hate waiting. It is part of the real reason why we may be habitually late. A bunch of people are late for a scheduled event, so the event is delayed several minutes because of waiting for the late-comers. The next time (or eventually), those who were kept waiting also begin to come late since the event never seems to start on time anyway, and waiting is so annoying.

Most of us are impatient. We expect results now, not in an unknown future. Some of us have little faith in waiting for promised results; especially when the expected results are delayed. Many of us feel irritated when our time is wasted by others or by circumstances. All of this is because we are, in general, self-involved, self-important, and self-centered.
And yet, some of us find ourselves waiting for “Superman” to save us from harm, sadness, tragedy, boredom, hardship, life. Some of us find ourselves waiting for Godot or an unknown entity that will miraculously or magically change our lives and make us happy. Absent the grand entrance of Godot or Superman, we feel sorry for ourselves.

The problem with self-pity is that it can only exist in a state of helplessness, waiting for someone else to intervene in our lives. While we are immersed in self-pity, we are doing nothing useful or productive. We are not trying to solve our own problems. We are not helping others. The secret to vanquishing self-pity, is to do some good in the world, preferably for someone else. The secret to taking the first step away from self-pity is to recognize the good around you and in your life, and focus on that. Then focus on making someone else happier. You can do that by noticing the good around them and pointing it out. Stop wallowing in self-pity, in the “slough of despond.” Keep stepping away from self-pity, one step at a time. Self-pity is a sin. It is the sin of ingratitude. It is the sin of self-indulgence. It is a lack of faith. It is full of pride, and lacking in humility. Don't waste another precious moment of your life feeling sorry for yourself.