When I saw the play “Waiting for Godot” I kept waiting for something to happen. Something else to happen. Something besides waiting. While the two men wait they sing songs, tell stories, examine sore feet, encounter other travelers, muse. But mostly they wait. At the end of the first act a boy tells them that Godot will be there the next day. The two men leave to sleep. And then they come back the next day (next day for them, second act for us) and wait some more. They consider not waiting. But then they keep waiting. We aren’t told why they’re waiting. We aren’t told why Godot is worth the wait, or what they expect will happen after Godot arrives. The play was about what happened while they waited for Godot.
Life is what happens while we’re waiting to die. Thinking about the play later, I decided that’s what it’s about. Some might find that depressing. I find it freeing. There’s no pretending we’re more important than we are. Everything dies. Trees. Tigers. The black and coral striped centipede I saw on my walk today. My dog. Books get eaten by moths and music is forgotten. Great ideas are discovered and set aside and then discovered again.
If there is no Meaning or Purpose or Plan, if there is no need to Make it Matter or Point to Prove then there is nothing to lose. There are no missed opportunities or lost causes. If life is about what we do while we’re waiting to die, we might as well enjoy what we can. I am free to write or hike without worrying if it’s what I’m Supposed to do. I can tinker or toil. If I want to spend my time waiting watching West Wing and drinking whiskey I can. It’s entirely up to me.
One of the two men waiting for Godot is more dour than the other. One is more ready to laugh and sing and the other to grouse and complain. Might as well laugh and sing, it makes the waiting more enjoyable. We’re all waiting to die, so there’s no need to be an asshole. No one wins in the end, we might as well be kind.