Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sisyphus: The Second Installment

Well, it's Monday morning again. Symbolically, at least, this is the day that we start our jobs all over again. I under TGIF because there are a couple of days ahead of us, so to speak. But I think a case can be made for TGIM for that is the time when we get to/have to start work again. I'm sure there are a lot of unemployed folks who see Monday that way. My mother and father worked hard at jobs that were never done. They both looked forward to the Sabbath but I never heard a complaint when, on Monday morning, they had to start all over again. Nor will we hear Sisyphus complain.
Speaking of our the old man, it's time to see what's happening as our intrepid reporter interviews our antihero. By the way, I haven't decided on a name for our reporter. Perhaps you could suggest one. And since the story is about Sisyphus, I've said very little about the reporter himself. However, I can see a symbiotic relationship developing between the two so we will learn more about the reporter himself. All we know, at the moment, is that he is a runner, is middle-aged and has some personal as well as professional issues to deal with.
This morning, he once again sneaks by the guard dog and arrives at the scene just as Sisyphus is getting ready to start the ascent. Sisyphus has wrapped his arms around the rock in a kind of love-hate hold as the reporter approaches.
R: Morning.
S: Morning. Sorry I can't wait. Got to get going. I can't talk while I'm pushing this thing up the hill. But if I don't get it over and have to let it roll back down, even the gods can't control me while I walk back down. We can talk then.
R: It's a deal.
[Sisyphus, plants his feet, grunts, rocks the stone to get it moving and the daily task begin. After a long and arduous climb, they reach the summit. Sisyphus takes a deep breath, mutters something to himself and pushes with all his might. Once again, the rock totters, almost goes over but finally starts falling back. Sisyphus and the reporter jump out of the way and they start walking back down the hill.
R: What were you muttering about?
S: I was saying that this might be the time. As they say, “Hope springs eternal.”
R: For a moment, I thought you might make it too. You know, you're in pretty good shape for someone who has been pushing that thing for all these years. How much does that thing weigh?
S: Zeus made the rock the same size as he is—his perverted sense of humor—and he's a big guy. As for my physical condition, you'd be in good shape too, if you worked as hard as I do. By the way, you look as if you could shed a few pounds. Too bad, the gods won't let you help me. Might do you some good.
R: Yeah, well. How do you feel about being wrongly judged and drawing such an unjust sentence? Most folks would just give up.
S: Don't go making me a paragon of virtue. Sure, I did what I did because, as King of Corinth, I knew we needed water and I saw my chance to cut a deal with the water god when I saw Zeus abducting his daughter. Worked too. Corinth now has an eternal spring. I know it was good for the city but the truth of the matter is, I've never backed down from the gods. They would be happy if we mortals just went along with whatever they said without making waves. But I question everything. So I challenged Zeus, got caught and here I am.
R: And Zeus consigned to endless labor—life without meaning.
S: Endless labor, yes. But without meaning, even the gods can't control that.
R: What do you mean?
S: I think it's always legitimate to wonder if life has meaning and even though I'm confined to the underworld, I still look for meaning, even here. You must remember that Camus wrote “The Myth of Sisyphus” during the dark days after WWII when France and all Europe was in deep despair. If there was ever a time when the world needed to find meaning, it was then. I'm always searching.
R: You are one more unique person.
S: Unique because of my situation, perhaps. However, almost everyone has to deal with, at one time or another, work that seems to have no inherent meaning. And life is often chaotic—for everyone. Look at Max's video today. Even, perhaps especially, little children need meaning in their lives. I'm not a religious person, but I think Max has the right idea about the role of religion. And frankly, the only reason I agreed to these interviews is because I hope that whoever reads them might find some questions or ideas that will help in their search.
R: So the rock is no big problem?
S: I didn't say that. It's just that I refuse to let the rock win.
R: We've got to keep this going, if you're willing. I want to know more about these other people.
S: I'll be here.

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