In our society today, what we do and discuss in our free time is no different than throughout the decades. We have progressed into new discussions and new technologies but how far off are we from the same contemplations that have occurred time and time again? In the play Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, we can see the similarities and differences from then and now. The idea of minimalism is so bare that the setting is just a tree, a road, and a time. Now in the 21st century, you would think it to be any different. We are surrounded by lights, signs, people, and screens everywhere you go. Many times, we can sit in our room playing on our phone, writing a paper or this very blog post, and have the tv on in the background and still feel like the bare minimum. There’s more than just a tree and a road but it’s the same boredom that the characters Vladimir and Estragon experience.
When in such a routine setting such as your room, class, or workplace it becomes dull and uneventful. We just find stuff to fill the void and pass the time, spend it with friends, playing video games, watch a movie, study, repeat. But even after a movie, after some gaming, what did we accomplish? Nothing! We accomplish nothing but how to waste time, just as much as when Pozzo and Lucky stop and fill up the time of waiting for Godot for Vladimir and Estragon. The dialogue after Pozzo and Lucky leave even consist of this short response.
“Vladimir: That passed the time.
Estragon: It would have passed in any case.
Vladimir: Yes, not so rapidly.”
We can be in Disney World and still find ourselves just wasting time. Even in the happiest place on earth, we can find this boredom. Of course, it also has to do with the point that being happy has nothing to do with the boredom of passing the time for even in the play Beckett makes a point of writing:
“Estragon: I am happy.
Vladimir: So am I.
Estragon: So am I.
Vladimir: We are happy.
Estragon: We are happy. [Silence.] What do we do now, now that we are happy?
Vladimir: Wait for Godot. [Estragon groans. Silence.] Things have changed here since yesterday.”
We could be happy, sad, angry, or disgusted but we still have time to pass and until we figure out how, we ponder. In a short quote from Aristotle’s Nicomachean, Ethics found here, Aristotle explains how philosophy is a leisure activity, a pleasant way to pass the time. Some may agree and that when left with nothing to do, no labor, or at least to discuss while laboring, discussion of thought-provoking reasoning and philosophy seems like a fitting way to fill time.
The tragicomedy by Samuel Beckett can seem all too real at times. We laugh and chuckle at the simple silliness of life and other times we feel miserable and bored just waiting for meaning to come to find us. We waste time asking questions, in-depth explanations relevant to life and death, and still making no progress toward anything in life. We are simply bored, wasting time until twilight comes and night falls, then we return to dark nothingness.