Many years ago when Mom and Dad were still alive, we would take them to “Playhouse in the Park” a local theater here in Cincinnati. Mom always seemed to be interested in watching a live play. Dad confessed to me one time that he didn’t always understand what was going on but he went anyway to please Mom. (just one of his lessons to me about love)
One of the plays performed that season was Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”. On the ride home I asked Mom, “So, who do you think Godot is? and will they ever find him, will he ever come?” Mom answered almost immediately. Godot is death. The second half of the two part question didn’t require an answer. But for whatever reason, this play, and my mother’s answer stayed with me thirty years later. It seemed to me perceptive.
About 15 years later I found a copy of the play in Barnes & Noble. It reminded me again of that conversation and I bought it. Now from time to time I read it. This is one of those times. I picked it up again last evening and read a portion of it before going to bed. The play itself, dialog with notes about the set, movement, actor emotion is harder to read than a fictional novel. It is less visually developed and requires the reader to do that visualization. Curiously, merely one picture or sketch, fixes that visual. Forever. (Standard sets are simple. A dusty road in the country and a tree in the background maybe some rocks are all that’s needed.)
It is an allegory, of course, and allegory interpretation is in the eye of the beholder and interpreter. And my mother’s interpretation was just as valid as the scholars’ interpretation.
Scholars and critics talk of God and religion, humanity and spiritualism, existentialism philosophy. But, in some way, we are all waiting for death. How we wait, what we do while waiting, are we merely waiting or do we search for meaning in the wait? Those are some of the greater life questions that settled on me with a thump today.
Mom has been gone for a while now. Dad even longer but I think of them often when things around me spark some memory. I tell this story often about Mom. Mom was a saver of things to put things into. Boxes, baskets, bowls, crates, the clutter of life are kept in these. Or piled up over there until a suitable container is found. To this day I cannot throw a box away without hearing Mom’s voice in my head, “Don’t throw away that box! That’s a good box!” Life is full of boxes and crates and sheds and garages and storage facilities and warehouses but I have digressed.
Samuel Beckett is a person that I think I would have liked to know in life. Or, at least, I would have liked to sit and have a couple glasses of wine with.
Godot for me the present. One need not wait for it because its here. Lucky and Pozzo are the rest of the surrounding (cluttering) experience. Vladimir and Estragon are the dance with the present. They are waiting for Godot but Godot has come and they are too concerned with their dance to notice.