Helplessness Blues

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

This week, I watched the last episode of The West Wing for the umpteenth time.

There were a few TF related points to take from the last 5-10 minutes before the curtain fell on President Bartlet’s regime:

  1. As he stands in the West Wing for the last time, President Bartlet looks out the window onto the White House lawn. It’s clearly hitting him that his time in power is coming to an end and he’s thinking whether he could have done more. His wife reassures him that he “did a lot of good” but he’s clearly not convinced.
  1. Later, at the end of his first staff meeting in the Oval Office, the new president (I won’t tell you his name just in case any of you want to watch it in the future) asks “what’s next?” and smiles. He’s full of ambition and determination to achieve all of the things that Bartlet didn’t.
  1. Finally, in the last scene of the series, President Bartlet is flying on Air Force One to his family home. The new president has been sworn in and Bartlet’s job is at an end. Again, he’s staring pensively out the window as the sun sets in the distance. This time, when his wife asks him what he’s thinking, he simply smiles and says:

Tomorrow.

I suspect that from time to time we’ve all experienced those emotions. We’ve all been full of enthusiasm at the beginning of a great undertaking and, by the time we reach the end, we have all found ourselves wondering whether there’s more we could have done.

That’s where perspective comes in. Once we realise, as President Bartlet did when he looked out of the window of Air Force One, that we are but functioning cogs in this great machinery we call humanity, we understand that it’s an achievement to have made even a small positive change to the world around us.

Peppered through this week’s TF are references to a song called “Helplessness Blues” by Fleet Foxes. The song starts by describing someone suffering from the helplessness blues but in a line that marks a change of pace and message Robin Pecknold sings:

What good is it to sing helplessness blues?

Why should I wait for anyone else? 

As much as we all sometimes feel helpless, or that we could have done more, a bit of perspective should change that. The only way to deal with that feeling is to remember that our  feelings of helplessness will continue only for as long as we choose not to take control; that we cannot wait for someone to tell us what to do; that we must think of tomorrow rather than yesterday; and that we must ask “what’s next!?”

Although President Bartlet doesn’t rock a Tash, it turns out that the actor who plays him did. Martin Sheen, take a bow, this is a smashing effort:

Tash Friday 23:5:14

Have a great weekend folks!

What’s next?

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