August 02, 2004 - 10:18 amSISYPHUS
Of all the Greek myths, the myth of Sisyphus is the one that really does it for me.
If you donít know who he was, hereís a quick synopsis: Basically, according to Homer, Sisyphus was an arrogant, passionate, self-righteous guy who thought he was above the rules of the gods and even cheated death for a while. The gods warned him lots of times to stop being so cocky and to stop pulling stuff over on them, but he eluded them and continued his zealous living. Ultimately, however, he was caught, sent to hell, and punished by having to push a huge boulder up an unbelievably steep hill, only to have it roll back down once he got it almost to the top. Then he had to walk back down the hill and push it up again. Over and over. Ad infinitum (thatís Latin for Ďa long ass timeí).
Now what the gods didnít count on was the fact that Sisyphusí passion for life came not from the objects of the world itself (although he did enjoy the sensual stuff), but from the joy of being the master of his own world. He controlled what he could to make his life exactly the way he wanted it, and, after a brief period of adjustment to eternal damnation, he regained control of his situation simply by laughing at his fate and doing his best with the task at hand. Over and over. Ad infinitum. Every new start pushing that boulder up that hill was a triumph over the gods who put him there.
I love that story.
I lived a charmed life up until I was fifteen. I had great parents who loved and respected each other and their children and took care to see that my sister and I were educated to be compassionate, respectful, resourceful, critical thinkers. I had enough to eat, warm clothes, a nice home, and a close, happy family. Everyone should be so lucky.
Skipping ahead ten years or so over a bunch of stuff which by anyoneís standards pretty much sucked, shook my foundations to the point of nearly crumbling, took me completely unprepared, or all of the above, Iím now well into that adjustment period where I once again become master of my world. The paradox that Sisyphus embraced and I am still working on is that happiness derived from the pleasure of this earth is absolutely necessary, but should be symptomatic of a deeper happiness which comes from another place entirely and transcends everything of this earth.
Every day the trek down the mountain to push my boulder up again becomes a little less daunting than the day before. It is not a tragedy to be aware of the futility of our efforts. It is freedom.
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