Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Randomness of Life

Just the other day I heard about this incident.  A hearse was driving a casket to the cemetary with the wife of the deceased sitting in the front seat next to the driver.  According to police reports, the hearse was struck in the rear, causing the unsecured casket to lurch forward.  The wife was struck in the head by the casket and was killed.  

This got me to thinking about one of my favorite pieces of literature, Samuel Beckett's stage work Waiting for Godot.  Beckett also directed a brilliant presentation of the play which I have viewed many times.  Both the written work and the staged presentation offer the reader/viewer an opportunity to decipher the meaning in many ways.  For me, the work represents the randomness of life.  We try to connect the incidents of every moment to bring meaning to the whole.  I suppose the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, or so we all would like to think.  Each moment is so random that to think of the parts as a whole with no connection to anything other than that moment is enough to make one crazy.  Surely we are all a bit of Estragon and Vladamir, the two main characters in the play.  They are connected to nothing, own nothing, and can only relate to what is right in front of them.  Their only purpose seems to be to wait for Godot.  Everything else is random.  But we do not really know who or what Godot is, but only that he is coming and has been there before.  Isn't that what every day is like?  

Imagine this woman disconsolate over the death of her husband.  Imagine the mourners waiting the arrival of the casket and the bereaved wife.  What meaning can one possibly attach to this event in order to understand it, other than randomness?  Perhaps, like Vladamir and Estragon, they simply sat down and waited for Godot.

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