In Samuel Beckett’s existential masterpiece “Waiting for Godot,” two tramps, clowns, vagabonds, whatever you choose to call them, are waiting for Godot. Alas! Poor Vladimir (Didi) and Estragon (Gogo), little do they know: Godot is never going to come.
Well, call me Didi or Gogo, but I, too, am waiting for Godot. Except my Godot isn’t someone, it’s something. It’s spring.
We seem to be mired in a long daisy chain of chilly, damp, gray days, one after another, an endless string of false hope. Now if these interminable dank days were a string of glowing gray pearls, I’d buy them in a heartbeat, have them gift wrapped in one of Tiffany’s little blue bags, and give them to my wife as a present. But these days aren’t pearls; they’re twenty-four hours of cold, gray misery, and with each passing one, I sink deeper and deeper into despair, waiting for the answer to my seasonal prayer, you know the one I mean—the prayer of vernal redemption.
In the first act of Beckett’s play, Didi and Gogo are eventually joined by a boy who explains that he is a messenger from Godot, and that Godot will not be arriving today, but will surely arrive by tomorrow. Unsure of what Godot looks like, Didi asks the boy for a description of the mystery man, but the boy offers only the vaguest of answers and leaves. With that, the Didi and Gogo announce that they aren’t going to wait for Godot a moment longer, and that they, too, will leave. But guess what: they don’t budge. They remain on stage, preferring to live a bit longer in the hope that Godot will show up. He doesn’t. Fade to black.
As for me, I know what spring looks like, and I haven’t yet seen any sign of its imminent arrival. Well, OK; maybe one: it is lighter longer, but that only extends the length of another gray day. So like Beckett’s oddball characters, I’ll wait. Who knows? Tomorrow’s another day. Maybe by then…
But in the second act of Beckett’s play, things really fall apart. Didi and Gogo are still on stage waiting for Godot. The boy reappears, but he claims he is not the same boy who talked to the two the previous day. That throws Didi into a rage; he insists the boy remember so they won’t have to repeat this inane encounter again. When the boy reports that Godot will not be coming, Didi and Gogo consider suicide, but they don’t have a rope with which to hang themselves. They decide to leave and return the following day with a rope so they can finish the job, but once again, they remain motionless as the set fades to black.
The critic Vivian Mercer described “Waiting for Godot” as a ‘theoretical impossibility,’ a play in which ‘absolutely nothing happens, yet the audience remains glued to their seats, not just once but twice.’ I get that because here I sit, day after gray day, waiting for the Godot of my spring which simply will not come. Sigh.
Maybe—just maybe—we’re all a bit like Didi and Gogo, waiting for someone or something that never comes. So, if you should happen to see me sitting on my front porch, wrapped in blankets, scanning the sky for a that first flight of north-bound geese, take pity on me. I’m just waiting for Godot.
I’ll be right back.
Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer who lives in Chestertown. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy Magazine. His debut novel, “This Salted Soil,” a delightful children’s book, “The Ballad of Poochie McVay,” and two collections of essays (“Musing Right Along” and “I’ll Be Right Back”), are available on Amazon. Jamie’s website is Musingjamie.net.