Samuel Beckett, best known for his play Waiting for Godot, explores the essence of time lost in his later work, Krapp's Last Tape. Last weekend, I went to my little school's even littler black box to see this play and I didn't really know what to expect. The plot is as follows: an old man hobbles on stage, proceeds to spend an absurdly long amount of time eating a banana, listens to a tape recording of himself as a younger man recounting his 39th year, and creating his own recording of his 69th. It was at times humorous and uncomfortable, but also profoundly sad.
As the man on the tape expresses no regret for his past as better days are sure to come, the man onstage surely sees no such days coming. It is an exercise in mundanity and a testament to the existentialism that assures us any purpose we feel is surely a mere illusion, and that futility and chaos rule the day. Time lost is all that comes to mind when I think about this, the echoing voice on the tape player that tries but can never recapture the profound reality of his life.
They say the peak of mental achievement comes in your early twenties. This is a scary statistic, not because I think I'll achieve nothing in my life if it doesn't come before I buy my first house, but because it implies that this, one day, will be my time lost. The years to come will be the voices heard on my proverbial tape players. I am confident that, at the very least, my life will be interesting but I am no less confident that someday I will have to let that life go. It is an inevitability that I am not sure I can come to terms with, though I am trying. William Faulkner once called time "the mausoleum of all hopes and desires." I don't think he means death. It is cryogenics- a simultaneous preservation and destruction but enough to last.
Fear of time is perhaps the most innate fear humans possess, built into us from infancy and evolution. Of course, we are afraid of it; it is something that can exist outside of use. In fact, it must exist as such. Our lives will all be soon nothing more than tapes left long unplaited and time will go on unaffected. It is not selfish to hope your existence would leave a more indelible mark, but maybe Beckett was right. Life is funny and more uncomfortable for me maybe than for most. It is also achingly sad, infuriatingly ambiguous, and defined too often by what we've lost. It's a little black box where art, even if just for a moment, and even if weird and unexpected, exists.