A country road. A tree.
The setting of Waiting for Godot matches the condition of travelers that we have on this earth. We are on a road. We don’t remember where it began, and we are not responsible for starting it. The only thing we can do as long as we live is to continue traveling on it. We don’t know what will take place while walking, but we are given the certainty of a tree.
“Two Travellers, walking in the noonday sun, sought the shade of a widespreading tree to rest. As they lay looking up among the pleasant leaves, they saw that it was a Plane Tree.
“‘How useless is the Plane!’ said one of them. ‘It bears no fruit whatever, and only serves to litter the ground with leaves.’
“‘Ungrateful creatures!’ said a voice from the Plane Tree. ‘You lie here in my cooling shade, and yet you say I am useless! Thus ungratefully, O Jupiter, do men receive their blessings!'”
Should Aesop’s fable be considered the key to Beckett’s play? We are on a road, traveling toward Godot, waiting for Godot to make his apparition, while a tree is next to us and we don’t even pay attention to it.
The country road is the road to Emmaus. We explain to the Plane Tree everything that has happened in our terms . We explain to It our story about Its life, and we are amazed that It is the only one who doesn’t know the story, who doesn’t know that it’s not sufficient to stand and litter the ground with leaves. It must bring forward fruit. And we tell It what the fruit should be. All of this while walking toward the “end” of the path, an end that we “know.” But there is no end of the path if we remain in the cooling shade of the broken bread.
Verweile doch, du bist so schön!
“I’ve been here all this time, and I will not run away,” the plain tree would say. For the tree is a beautiful idiot, just as Dostoevsky’s Prince Myshkin. An “idiot” who makes no sense, who cannot justify his existence. And we want to feast on his body, just as we want to feast on the fruit of the plane tree. Still, an “idiot”does not run away and offers himself to others in spite of the evidence that this offering brings about no positive result, in spite of the fact that our eyes are still not open. And we feast on his body. Some, do it in thanksgiving. Others, like the travelers from Aesop’s fable and even Estragon and Vladimir from Beckett’s play, do it without even acknowledging it.
Can we become plane trees that offer shade on the road to Emmaus? Can we become trees which, instead of offering fruit to others, offer themselves? There’s such a long way from an ungrateful traveler under a plane tree to a plane tree. It is the way from obliviousness to thankfulness.
O, moment, you are indeed so beautiful. Open my eyes and let me not run away.