Not Waiting for Godot?

Tuesday, 16. June 2009

A tongue-in-cheek thesis for your consideration… that there are only three states of being. They are: 1) trying, or wrestling with problems that never end, 2) accepting the possibility of receiving miracles now and 3) doing as little as possible while waiting for something great to happen. Nothing else matters. There are no other realities.

I think the state of being that I have so far called “waiting” is the most complex and subtle of the three and will take a very long time to penetrate with any real understanding. “Waiting” is merely a shorthand for now.

It is obvious what receiving miracles and trying to get things done mean but it is not obvious what constitutes right action when you cease from action.

One obvious thing that the “waiter” is not doing is that they are not planning. Nor are they worrying away at the outcome. Anxiety belongs in the trying state so if anyone is anxious they cannot be waiting.

Waiting may have a neutrality as to outcome, or perhaps it is tinged with the expectation of certainty by virtue of being about realism. Trying, by contrast is all about the unreality of wanting what you have not got.
I see receiving as the momentary thing when the miracle happens and waiting as a far longer process that occurs between times of receiving, which are, as it were, fulfilments of themes that were brewing.

For me waiting starts with a soft touch: deliberately leaving something alone, like having the willpower not to scratch an insect bite. Scratching is like doing and it inflames the bite.

That’s the way to let things that matter happen, not to start planning goals and wrestling with life.

Part 1 is taken from my thoughts and responses on another online forum in

November 2008; there is more to follow.

3 Responses to “Not Waiting for Godot?”

  1. Vincent Says:

    The thesis does sound oddly familiar to me. But that should not surprise you. Never mind what I might have said then. In any case I think your thesis may have metamorphized since then.

    I’d respond by saying that I don’t do 1) any more. I do miss wrestling with problems that never end, but they don’t appear infinite any more; nor are they readily available. A problem that you make up just in order to pass the time by solving it isn’t the same as a real problem.

    I think that as far back as I can remember I have accepted the possibility of miracles (which is not at all uncommon, I think) but have been utterly dependent on them (which is surely rarer).

    Your third option leaves me in somewhat of a quandary. I have an instinctive response to the first part “doing as little as possible”. I suspect that all animal life-forms may have this ambition, though it is seen in its most perfect realization in insects, reptiles & sloths; and least perfect realization in man. But “waiting for something great to happen”? Not sure what you mean. Needing something great to happen? If you really mean waiting for something great to happen, that’s identical to (2) accepting the possibility of miracles.

    You may say that difference between (2) and (3) is that 2 is now and 3 is in the indefinite future. I would respond that there’s no difference. Intrinsic to one’s belief in miracles is the need to be ready for them. Getting ready is identical with waiting.

  2. Steven Holmes Says:

    Most people assume that the newborn infant is some kind of clean slate to be written on by life, though physical defects, science would accept, can be inherited. But how quickly? How fast can the genes change/mutate.

    The Bible said it was all fixed by God in less than a week. Darwin said it took millions of years of random mutations. The Austrian scientist Paul Kammerer was mocked and driven suicidal by his colleagues between the wars for daring to pursue the Lamarckian claim that a change to an animal’s environment causing health changes could be passed to the very next generation.

    Now it turns out that he could have been right; this

    “As with all such new, and potentially important, developments, the first requirement of good science is that these effects are reproduced [that is, confirmed] in an independent laboratory. If this proves to be the case, we will have to rethink about the mechanisms via which adverse effects of environmental chemicals or lifestyle practices can be passed from one generation to the next.”

    ….is part of this remarkable article in yesterday’s Telegraph….

    Why does this matter? Because how your parents chose to live their lives is part of what you live with today and how you live your life will condition all your generations to come. Sure, this is mainly about chemicals, poisons and food additives, smoking, alcohol and stuff, but it is also about behaviour, stress, attitudes that become embedded in your body, the impact of tension and the humanity or cruelty you employ to get yourself through life in competition or co-operation with others.

    I believe that once those genetic patterns are passed on there may actually be a behavioural element (with ethical implications) involved…

    And that it becomes part of the task of a person who wishes to claim maturity that they identify these inherited characteristics, chose whether they wish to pursue tham and be prepared to work (on themselves) today at the future they want their grandchildren to enjoy.

    Very simply for the cynics: life hurts you in any way >> you tense up/become poisoned/experience deep but subtle body change that you probably won’t even notice >> that alters the genetic instructions you pass on >> your child is born with your afflictions already built in, and a job to do in clearing them, just as you were.

    Just imagine the despair that some parents are passing on in Africa today, right into the very next generation: the pain of starvation and the despair of AIDS. Who knows what suffering that causes, physical and quite possibly a great deal deeper…

  3. Vincent Says:

    If it’s true, it has always been true, so I don’t think that recent studies change anything. Our cultures will have been shaped around it with appropriate survival mechanisms, along with all our other evolutionary inheritance.

    What I mean to say is, do we need to know what scientists claim?

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