Sometimes, if we are lucky, even when we make choices for the strangest reasons, the resulting joy eclipses the consideration given them.
Garbage in, wisdom out.
Single people know that life doesn’t just happen, nor does it queue neatly to fit our expectations; it has to be orchestrated. We initiate to fill our days, waiting for things to happen can mean waiting and wasting.
My friend self describes as a single combat warrior – she alone must plan her day, her week, her month, her life.
We singletons live in first person singular; I shall, I will, I must.
So what does this have to do with Samuel Beckett? Not much at the start.
I seek to fill my days, my weeks, my months, my life with interesting things to do.
Sometimes I start at the wrong end of things, I face empty Mondays; they must be filled, otherwise I will do little but pretend to be a boulevardier, a flaneur; sauntering down to Delaney’s for a coffee and an elegant, slightly patronizing scan of its inhabitants.
While mildly amusing and distracting, it is thin sustenance. I need more.
So I cast about. Previously, I would have filled those Mondays with a hard, long, forced march around the city, but it is winter, better to find something indoors away from the unpredictable weather and its cold rain.
Something indoors. Luckily, I have discovered senior’s learning; there are kinder words, plus 55, lifelong learning etc. Simon Fraser University has a program at its downtown campus for me and thousands like me.
I scan the program for Monday’s events; the only offering to tickle my fancy is a course on Samuel Beckett.
I have met Beckett once and didn’t like him. Years ago I took Kristen and Blair to the Stratford Festival for a weekend of what I styled “Shakespeare boot camp”.
To break it up a bit, we went to see Waiting for Godot, a Beckett classic. There was a brief intermission; nothing in the play made sense. Kristen and Blair explained the play to me as dark existentialism; I limped through the second act still scratching my head and they managed to help me in our inevitable post mortem over pizza at a local restaurant.
Then it was on to the evening’s main event – Shakespeare, my favorite. I immediately forgot Beckett.
Now here he was, my best option to fill my winter Mondays. Waiting for Godot or something else is not an option.
I signed up.
It has been a surprise, remarkably thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating. I look forward to my Monday class.
Our professor is cheerful happy, smiling, laughing – not my expectation of a Beckett enthusiast. She is quite the opposite; instead of the Grim Reaper our prof is Mary Poppins.
I won’t bore you with my analysis of Beckett; I could not credibly pull it off. He did deserve his Nobel Prize even if he is bleak; a person so gifted that he had to write in French to slow down/dumb down his writing to be even hopefully incomprehensible.
He was a troubled Irish genius, inflicting his dark foreboding on generations of readers and theatregoers. He created a treasure trove of question marks, rivalling James Joyce in puzzling critics, academics and art lovers.
I was always told to read the black part of the page; attributing meaning to the white part was presumptuous interpretation, wild speculation, surmising – guaranteed to be wrong. Read the words Beckett said.
My class loves to read the white part of the page, to speculate; what did he really mean. They are very creative and profoundly optimistic. I enjoy the discussion, the thoughtfulness, the passionate explanations and exclamations. Whew! Who knew he meant all these things.
The course is another example of the obvious; I can sit in my warm bath of familiarity, doing little, waiting for Godot or I can be a ‘single combat warrior’ and go out and challenge the world, even if my objective is merely to fill my empty Mondays.
I have no fear of falling down the rabbit hole of trying to dissect Beckett. His dark view of the world does not interest me. But I am challenged to think, to accept again that others have different ideas and points of view, that I haven’t learned it all.
What better way to spend dreary Mondays? Better than waiting for Godot…?