Battlestar Galactica and the Virtue of Waiting

Stylized screenshot from original Battlestar Galactica.
Breaking News! The original Battlestar Galactica series is going to be on a local TV station near me this summer! Whoop-dee-do, you say? It’s been on Netflix for years, you say? Well, pardon me, but I’m somewhat elderly (42!) and don’t remember things like Netflix when I’m wishing to see my old TV shows. I still “tape” the shows I want to watch on my DVR. As much as I try to live in the brave new world of technology—with some small successes—my brain is wired for the 1980s. So, when I heard that BSG was going to be on, I was very excited. I bought the theme song on iTunes and have been listening to it frequently in my hype.

There are three main reasons that this is excellent news: 1) Dirk Benedict, 2) the fabulous theme song, and 3) now the kids today will see what Cylons are supposed to look like—stocky, chrome dudes with Knight Rider helmets that speak a robotic, “By your command.” They aren’t skinny blondes in slinky, red dresses, or your best friend, or you and you don’t know it! In the 80s, we knew who our enemies were; and they were stocky, evil robots.

“Binge watching” wasn’t a thing during my childhood. You had to wait, probably a week at a time, to see a show you wanted. And if you missed it? Too bad. You’d have to wait until it was in syndication—if it ever even made it! And, if seasons ended on a “to be continued” cliffhanger, may God have mercy on your soul! You could bust a gut waiting for that next episode! My husband was grounded when the first episode aired, and I don’t mind telling you that I have listened to that story many times throughout the years. He was scarred. Oh, the struggle was real, my young friends!

People don’t know what to do with silence, or downtime, or separation from their phones.

But, there was a hidden gift in that setup. It’s the gift of anticipation. In this world of instant gratification, having to wait, to be patient, to look forward to something and put everything else aside in order to be present for that time-slot, is something worth revisiting. There was no pause or rewind—if you missed something, you missed it. After waiting and speculating about what might happen next, you would submerse yourself in the show and give it your full attention. I can tell you, I rarely do that now. I’m always watching TV and writing, or playing a game on my phone, or making MST3K-like rifftracks over the dialogue… because I can rewind it. Or grab it on-demand. Or, you know, Netflix (when I remember).

But, as this local TV channel has been playing my old favourite shows, I am finding myself looking forward to the weekly episodes. I have no intention of going onto Netflix and binging. I want to recapture the anticipation and childlike wonder I had as the story unfolded and I had a whole week to digest and ponder it. It was food for my imagination as I waited for the next installment.

They say that patience is a virtue. Anticipation and the art of waiting do more than just build character—but they do build character. Self-control and self-discipline are virtues very much lacking in our culture. People don’t know what to do with silence, or downtime, or separation from their phones—I’m as guilty as anyone on that one. People are dependent on knowing everything immediately, getting a response immediately, knowing where they stand immediately. There is no pausing to take inventory of your feelings because every moment gets filled. Self-centeredness is a click away from that lack of silence.

Anticipation makes the thing you’re waiting for have more meaning, more value, more joy when you finally reach your goal. It makes you more creative because you have to find ways to deal with the empty space in between episodes. It gives you time to dream possibilities about where the plot will go.

In this world of instant gratification, having to wait, to be patient, is something worth revisiting.

I love to garden and to bake. Both of these activities have moments of action, and far longer moments of waiting. They each need periodic attention to achieve the proper outcome. And, in this case, the outcome of these activities is something to eat. I’m Sicilian, so sharing food is a major way for me to express love for others. It’s rewarding to bring food into the world from seeds, seeing it grow into a product that I can turn into a meal that brings my family together and nourishes them.

The waiting can be difficult at times, but it has helped me to build the discipline necessary to get through other things that take time. Interviewing for a job can take months, learning a new skill or climbing the ranks in a martial art takes determination and self-control, developing healthy relationships requires appropriate self-revelation, waiting for a prayer to be answered takes trust. All of these things include the skill set that waiting teachings. Life takes time and it doesn’t move on my imagined timeline. If I don’t know how to wait, I could go nuts or become irritable and unpleasant. Good things really do come to those who wait… with the proper attitude.

Having everything at one’s fingertips can get a little boring. I had to wait several months before I got to see my old friends Adama, Apollo, Starbuck, and that weird little dog robot, but it’s worth it. In the meantime, I’m enjoying listening to the theme song and being transported back to the characters and episodes that I found so entertaining as a kid. There’s nothing like recapturing a little slice of my youth, and the anticipation that comes with waiting for it to happen.

Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry

Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry

Contributing Writer at Area of Effect
Jen is a pastoral minister, wife, mother, ninja and writer. She loves sci-fi, superheroes, and classic literature, and prefers to share her Catholic faith through such lenses. Her book, "Comic Con Christianity" is available from Paulist Press.
Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry