Monday, January 24, 2011

Sisyphus #8

[Most everyone knows about the man who has to push the rock up the hill only to have it roll back down forever. His name is Sisyphus and once again, our imaginary reporter is there on Monday morning, so to speak, to walk with him while he pushes the rock up and to interview him when Sisyphus can talk as they walk back down. Let's listen in.]

Reporter: brought you a six-pack of bottled water.

Sisyphus: Great. You know this whole rock thing started with water.

R: I read your file. When you were the King of Corinth, the city needed water. So when you saw Zeus taking off with the water god's daughter you swapped your information for an eternal spring. Zeus found out that you ratted him out and Bingo! Here you are.

S: That's the short of it. Good water, by the way. [starts pushing the rock]

R: You remember, this was supposed to be a one-time interview. Well, it's turned into a series and we've had a lot of mail. People are really interested in you.

S: Why's that?

R: Part of it is your colorful history. And part of it is your ability to observe from the underworld what is happening in our world today.

S: That last is your a product of your editor's imagination.

R: Sure. But the real thing is that people really resonate with what they see as endless futile labor. I've talked with people of all ages. Teen-agers, middle-age folks, and older people too.

S: And?

R: Well, they all see it from their perspective, of course. Young folks want life to always be exciting, some middle-agers want a change but don't know how to go about it, and I've talked with more than one older citizens who just wonder if it's all been worth it. A lot of folks just don't know how to change.
S: There was this painter I knew. [By this time they are at the top of the hill and, although Sisyphus has given it his best effort, the rock is on the way back down the hill.] She would see in her mind's eye what she wanted to paint and she painted it. She's a good painter and folks really like it. She could leave it at that. But it's not quite what she wants so she paints another, and another, and another. She becomes so obsessed with getting it perfect that she gets physically ill but keeps on painting. I guess it's a creative obsession. She suffers but can't bring herself to stop.

R: So is she compulsive or hopeful?

S: Both, I suppose. In my case, I don't have the freedom to let go of my rock. I can't even alter the routine. But I can make peace with it. In fact, I feel something new every time. The change is in me, not in my circumstances. I am the master of my rock.

R: So it's a matter of perspective?

S: To a great extent. Ever hear the poem, “Two men looked out from prison bars; One saw mud, the other stars.?” It's not all that neat, of course, but it is a good operating principle, don't you think?

R: Good enough to share with my readers. See you next time.

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