“Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes. It’s awful.”
Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett
One of the most anguishing and troubling plays in modern theatre centers around two “losers” called Vladimir and Estragon waiting for the arrival of a mysterious Godot who keeps sending messages that he will show up but never actually does. They represent two human beings that do not know why they are living in first place; this is a resiliently disturbing question that keeps popping up during the pandemic.
Waiting for Godot [i] was initially published in French by Samuel Beckett in 1952 and became the first success of the Theatre of the Absurd; some critics have interpreted it as a product of Existentialism that proclaimed that life had no rational meaning and that we should not waste time trying to find any, even with religions. For all their miserable existence, the two central characters—usually represented as tramps—cling to the assumption that Godot—the representation of God or other altruistic meaning of life—will eventually appear and give answers. At the end of the play, dismissing the despairing nihilistic message that Beckett had intended to convey, many of us have emotionally identified with the two tramps who finally rose above their banality. Seeking answers for our existence, we are all as destitute as them.
In these times of enforced Social Isolation, the hitherto boisterous venues of Life—the quarterly streets, the public transportation, the work offices—have been deserted of all the varied sounds from the human presence —their conversations, their laughs, their exclamations. Seizing the opportunity, Silence has tyrannically filled all those spaces.
However, there are interlopers from our past that dare to show up uninvited. Even though we might be busy during the “staying at home” mandate working at a distance, doing homely duties, parenting tasks, neglected tasks/repairs, etc., there is always a critical moment when the abetting “nothingness” invites memories that for some clear or intriguing reasons, we usually store in the back of our minds.
A few days ago, I suddenly stopped typing on this laptop because one of the memories from the most painful day of my life—when my mother Gladys had passed away and we were in her wake—brutally came crashing down on me. Right before the time to close her casket came, we were asked to leave the room. Being the last one to exit, I had a change of heart halfway down the hallway. I turned around and returned with decisive strides. Once back in the room, I gently leaned over my dear Mommy to caress her beautiful hair and slowly kiss her saintly forehead.
“Hasta luego, Mamá ”, I whispered to her.
I knew then that I was not saying goodbye to her at all . Only “see you later.” I had the feeling that Gladys was rightfully, peacefully entering into another world, after working and , being such a uniquely empathic person, suffering for all her family members.
We must push back against the paralyzing inertia that may be poisoning our spirits with the renewed expressions of humanly endeavor filled with affection and hope.
Women have always been of paramount importance to carry out this task.
Let us give them the much-needed respect and consideration they deserve.
Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.
(This article is based on our upcoming new book “Emotional Frustration – the hushed plague”)
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.
[i] Samuel Beckett, En Attendant Godot, Les Editions de Minuit, Paris, 2002.