In Catholic school, we regularly celebrated various saints’ feast days, but in the entirety of my Catholic education, I never heard of St. Nevercome. That is until I read Bertolt Brecht’s brilliant play The Good Woman of Setzuan in which a disgruntled-with-life character by the name of Yang Sun sings “The Song of St. Nevercome.” By the way, Bertoldt’s play also provides insightful commentary on gender politics.
You might think of the fictional St. Nevercome as the patron saint of unfulfilled dreams, wishes, fantasies, goals, promises, etc. The expectation is that on St. Nevercome’s Day all of our unfulfilled longings will come true. Yang Sun’s greatest desire is to be a pilot. In the communistic system under which he lives, however, the quota for pilots is already at its maximum. Therefore, he is unable to live his dream, so he languishes in self-pity as he awaits St. Nevercome’s Day.
In the song that Yang Sun sarcastically sings, there’s an Edenic wish expressed for a day when basic human virtue will be universally rewarded and evil punished and when everyone’s needs will be met, not just those of the wealthy few: “Oh, hooray, hooray! That day goodness will pay! // That day badness will cost you your head! // And merit and money will smile and be funny // While exchanging salt and bread.”
The problem with St. Nevercome’s Day, of course, is that it never comes.
In many of our personal lives, we’ve been passively waiting for so long for St. Nevercome’s Day that we’re forced reluctantly to accept that it’s too late for us to ever see its arrival. Our ship of dreams never came in, and it isn’t drawing near on the horizon. On the societal level, some of us have sincerely tried to, as Gandhi implored, to “Be the change [we] wish to see in the world,” but we’ve been so beaten down by other people’s skepticism, negativity, and outright rejection that we’ve grown disillusioned, sullen, indifferent, and worst of all, we’ve stopped trying.
Lately, like Yang Sun, I’ve found myself saddened by and disgruntled with myself, other people, and the state of the world in general. My once youthful, naive dreams of personal achievement and societal betterment are disappearing at an alarming rate. Each day, each news cycle, I find myself slipping towards lassitude, surrender, and withdrawal rather than meaningful engagement in professional, social, or political arenas. Darkness beckons.
I’m hoping it’s — and it probably is — just a phase, a period from which I will soon emerge full of optimism regarding the world and my place in it. But as for today, I’m feeling forced to reckon with the grim realities that Camelot never existed, the cavalry ain’t coming, and in the words of Our Lady Peace, “Superman’s Dead.”
If you enjoy my blog posts, you may like to receive an email notification whenever a new article is posted. If so, click on the Menu link above and select “Home,” scroll down to the bottom, and click the “Follow” button. You may preview or order my most recent novel, Island No. 6, below. – Always with gratitude and love, Ty