WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE?!
About a million years ago when I was in college, I played Vladimir (the "serious one" - unusual casting for me..) in an all girl version of Samuel Beckett's landmark play, "Waiting for Godot." Recently, I've found that huge chunks of my lines flood though my mind, night after night. Here's a sample:
"To all mankind they were addressed, those cries for help, still ringing in our ears. But at this place, at this moment in time, all mankind is us - whether we like it or not. Let us do something! Let us represent worthily for once the foul brood to which a cruel fate consigned us, whattaya say?!" To which, his fellow traveler, Estragon (the "simple-minded one") played by my roommate, responds: "Arghhhh..."
But Vladimir soldiers on: "Oh, it is true that when with folded arms we weigh the pros and cons, we are no less a credit to our species. The tiger, without the least reflection, bounds to the help of his congeners - or else slinks back into the thicket. But that is not the question. What are we doing here? That is the question! And we are blessed in this, that we happen to know the answer. Yes, in this immense confusion, one thing alone is clear. We are waiting for Godot to come..." Estragon falls asleep.
What are we doing here? There's no use waiting. Godot never came. And he won't come. And even if he did, he wouldn't have the answer. But that's okay, because we do.
I was lucky enough to address a large group of young men and women - among the best and the brightest from all over the world - who were new recruits to GE, participating in one of their renowned training programs. At the end of my speech I paused and said, "So the question is, what are you doing here? Why did you come to GE? What difference will it make?" There was a slight pause and then a young man from a small country in Africa who had joined GE Healthcare, stood up and declared, "I came to GE because I want to save lives. And I will." "How do you know you can do it?" I asked. "Because," he responded, "I believe I can fly." And he began to sing the lyrics to that song by R Kelly, "I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky...I believe I can soar. I see me running through an open door..." and then, as if by design, all the other men and women in the room stood up and started singing, too. It was magnificent. I couldn't speak.
After I swallowed a few times, I closed with this quote by Margaret Meade: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
So...what are we doing here? What good thing could we create? What could we change from bad to good? What difference could we make? There's no use waiting for someone else to give us the answer. Godot's not coming. We're the ones to decide. And the ones to do it. And the ones...to fly.
Gail Blanke’s Lifedesigns©2012 All Rights Reserved