Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day six: I Am Waiting

I Am Waiting (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)

This poem makes me think about Occupy Wall Street. Because we have been a generation of waiting, of thinking that things would happen someday, soon, now. Only we’re still waiting, aren’t we? Waiting for the system to change, for the war to end, for all those things we’ve been promised (jobs, homes, happiness). But they haven’t come.

This feels like a protest poem. The repeated “I am waiting” is like a chant, a drumbeat, a demand. All the mythologies of America as the promised land are still out there, are still being sold to us, but there’s no there there. Just pretty pictures with nothing underneath.

But it’s not just about the problems of our generation, or of Ferlighetti’s generation, or of any generation. It’s also about being an adult, I think. About realizing that reality never measures up to our imaginings, that all mythologies and symbols are just pretty pictures, that none of humanity’s dreams will come true. That’s the nature of dreams. Even if we reach some specific goal it won’t be like the dream. We went to the moon, but it wasn’t heaven. You can write that “great indelible poem” but it won’t be good enough. It won’t ever be good enough.

So we’re waiting. We’re always going to be waiting – for the war that will end all wars, for God to show himself, for humanity to come together as one and death to be overcome. We’re always going to be waiting for the point when we can return to the innocence of childhood, when we can return to hope. For “the new rebirth of wonder.”

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