Waiting For COVID’s Godot

Samuel Beckett’s absurdist classic Waiting for Godot often comes to mind when I’m left waiting for any significant period of time. Beckett’s play has been reimagined many times over, covering the spectrum from inspired innovation to tortured.

No matter the setting, various incarnations of Didi and Gogo paddle the murky waters of human agency and the absurdities of life, as they await the arrival of the mysterious man. It’s unclear what he might do for the pair, where they should wait, or if Mr. Godot is even coming at all.

They fill the time by performing mundane repetitive tasks and typical speculative dorm room debates about the nature of the human condition. Didi, tends toward lofty optimism. Gogo, ever the earthy pessimist, feels there isn’t much to be done about life. In the end, Godot doesn’t show up, and they can’t quite remember all that’s happened.

The COVID era feels like our own generation has adapted Beckett’s classic, but with a split ending plot twist. Part of the audience have seen Mr. Godot save the day with a sleigh full of vaccines, treatments, and widespread acceptance that life should return to normal.

The rest of us know he hasn’t come. We’re wondering if enough people care about keeping the hospitals open. We have no use for sentimentality or good intentions. We want to know what folks will actually do about this problem. Many of the people, places, and things from before are still there, but nothing is quite the same. We must navigate this strange world from a self-preserving distance, with safety foremost in our minds.

Ready or not

The rush to get “back to normal” feels wild to me, especially when so many chronically ill and disabled people remain vulnerable. It seems that people have already forgotten the horrors we came from. The availability of treatments and vaccines changes things, but none of this is over, especially for folks who can’t fully benefit from them.

Do your best

I’m not kidding. You’ve made it this far, which is great news. But now it’s time to protect yourself from super efficient breakthrough infections, careless accidents, or anything else that might put you in the ER or Urgent Care.

Stay alert

I know you’re tired. We all are. Sometimes, things happen that are out of our control, but we have some choices about how we respond to the world around us. Talk around the pandemic is full of "inevitability." Do-not-give-in.

Hope, but verify

COVID vaccines and treatments make life much safer than it was, unless they don’t. It’s tempting to see these technologies as “good enough” to see us through, but we can’t say for sure. And some folks have mistaken these innovations for the pandemic’s end.

Give yourself something to look forward to

I’ll be raising butterflies, reading great books, cautiously visiting with a few responsible folks, fixing up my bedroom as a mermaid lair, getting back into crochet, and writing as much as I can.

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