Meghan Tyler: How to cope when there’s Nothing To Be Done
Edinburgh Festival Fringe guest blog: Writer and performer Meghan Tyler of Chaseplay Theatre explores the philosophies and big questions behind their all-female Fringe debut Nothing To Be Done, and offers her own simple but inspiring solution.
“The Answer to the Great Question… Of Life, the Universe and Everything… is… forty-two,’ said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.”
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Human beings have always searched for the meaning of life. We’ve come up with a number of answers from “God created the universe and had a purpose in doing so” to “life is without objective meaning”.
No matter who we are, or what we believe, all of us at some stage have wondered why we’re here. ‘Nothing to be Done’ looks at the two extremes of this question through its main characters – Lulu, who bogs herself down with philosophical questions, and Cece, who ignores and forgets them.
But which is better? On one hand Lulu has knowledge and wants to find an answer but is ultimately unhappy. On the other, Cece is ignorant and forgetful but concentrates on the now. Many people would say knowledge is power, and trying to find answers and questioning our existence is important and necessary. But is happiness the price?
Initially Lulu ‘passes the time’ with banter and games, but as the play moves on she allows herself to be plagued down by her ‘Groundhog Day’ existence and gives up completely. Whereas Cece, although consistently confused and forgetful, remains happy. Her blissful unawareness of her existential existence allows her to remain hopeful – she will wake up every day thinking the train will come, and fall asleep every night thinking the train will come tomorrow.
So is it better to have eternal optimism and be let down, or be persistently pessimistic and occasionally surprised? At the end of the play, the answer is neither. Cece will always be happy – she proves ignorance is bliss. However, therein lies the rub – she is ignorant. She’s ignorant to the big questions, to the crisis she’s trapped in, and to her friend’s absolute turmoil, whereas Lulu will always be aware of their trapped situation.
However Lulu’s awareness of being trapped effectively keeps her trapped – she knows there is no escape and allows it to be her downfall. In the real world we need a touch of both. We need to learn from both Lulu and Cece – to be aware of the Great Question Of Life, the Universe, and Everything, but carry on. Concentrate on the now, but accept we exist, for whatever reason we may think.
The answer might not be 42, there might not be an answer at all, but if we can think without dwelling, and find happiness without ignorance then maybe life wouldn’t seem so absurd.
MORE INFO: Nothing To Be Done is at theSpace on North Bridge until 24 August.