My tree or yours?

Have you ever seen or read the absurdist play Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett? I’ll be honest. I haven’t.

Here’s why: The play’s about two guys who spend two days waiting at a tree for the mysterious Godot. Godot never shows up.а And while they wait, the guys talk about all sorts of deep existential things like God, life, hope, and hopelessness. At the end of each day, a boy comes with the message that Godot wouldn’t be showing up. This pisses them off, but they just can’t seem to leave. For all I know, in this alternate reality, they’re still sitting there, waiting for Godot. аThe play has no plot, no character development, and it goes nowhere. One explanation is that Godot is a symbol of fulfillment for the two characters who are stuck in a life of monotony.а And they wait, but fulfillment never comes. аSo depressing.

So why did Waiting for Godot pop into my mind as I was trying to come up with a blog topic? I suppose its apropos, since it appears my brain had decided not to show up. Or maybe it had and I just didn’t realize it. Stream of consciousness can sometimes stir up a little brainstorm, so I decided to let it ride.

Here goes …

tree 2 glowing edge

Sitting by or under or in a tree can have wildly different results. Including running the risk of bird poop decorating your head. Or you could become enlightened like the Buddha as he sat under the bodhi tree.

To country music singer and songwriter Kenny Chesney and Willie Nelson, a Coconut Tree on Maui was a great place to get a different kind of enlightenment.


Sunny sky as far as I can see

High up in a coconut tree

Up here with Willie

Sunny sky as far as I can see

Let’s get high in a coconut tree.

аOh yeah.

Then there’s the age-old story of аsweethearts pledging their fidelity when one of them goes to war. Most of you may not be old enough to remember this, but it’s a song about a World War II soldier telling his girl “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree … with anyone else but me.” Seems Johnny had reason to worry:

I just got word from a guy who heard

From the guy next door to me

The girl he met just loves to pet

And it fits you to a T.

So don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me

Till I come marching home.

Poor Johnny! This song was made famous by the legendary Glenn Miller and the Andrew Sisters, taking top spot on the Hit Parade in 1942 and staying there for four months. а(If you know what “to pet” means, you are old!)

Even more symbolic for troops on deployment far away from home is the song Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round an Ole Oak Treeаmade popular by Tony Orlando. It was assumed that the song was about a convict who’s about to be released from prison and sends a letter asking his girl to tie a yellow ribbon around the oak tree in front of her house if she wants him back in her life. But the lyricist L. Russell Brown said emphatically that it was NOT about a convict coming home. Instead, it was inspired by an old tale about a Union prisoner who sent a letter to his girl that he was coming home from a confederate POW camp in Georgia. In more contemporary times, the yellow ribbon tied around a tree represents solidarity with our troops fighting wars in the Middle East, with the implied message to “bring our troops home.“ I couldn’t agree more.

We can also have a James Bond moment Underneath the Mango Tree with a very young Sean Connery and the Swiss starlet Ursula Andress. аThis is from the first movie in the James Bond film, Dr. No. Of course, it's all about seduction. And predictably our femme fatale has a typical Bond girl name – Honey Ryder.

аUnderneath the mango tree

Me honey and me can watch for the moon.

Underneath the mango tree

Me honey and me make boolooloop soon.


Underneath the moonlit sky

Me honey and I can sit hand in hand.

Underneath the moonlit sky

Me honey and I can make fairyland …Waiting for g


аGet the picture?а


The tree has its darker symbolism in the gut-wrenching poem written by a Jewish American, Abel Meeropol in 1937 to protest racism in America – Strange Fruit. He set it to music, and the iconic version by the soulful Billy Holiday was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.


Southern trees bear a strange fruit,

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,

Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.


Pastoral scene of the gallant south,

The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,

Scent of magnolia, sweet and fresh,

Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.


Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,

For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,

For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,

Here is a strange and bitter crop.


Sadly, racism in all its hateful forms is still rampant today. Let’s hope that we don’t sow even more seeds for this bitter crop in our current election year madness.

On that dark note, it appears that Waiting for Godot did pay off after all. And just because two guys were sitting by a tree.

If you’re into symbolism, pick your tree:

Coconut – life giving nourishment

Apple – youth, joy

Oak – courage and power

Mango – love, fertility

Poplar – deep courage, faith


If I were a tree

Which one would I choose to be?

All of the above.


ай Maya Leland 2014