I first read Albert Camus’ “Myth of Sisyphus” during my senior year in high school. It was quite a striking image–a man doomed to push a large boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down. When we discussed it in class, it became a larger metaphor for the human experience–toil, sorrow, and the absurdity of life. However, Camus also talks about Sisyphus’ “silent joy” and how he is “master of his days.” He knows the rock, he knows his task, and it is his own.
Sometimes I think that life mirrors this image–we each push our rocks (daily tasks) up the mountain, only to greet the next day knowing that we need to repeat the same things again (or if not the same things, new and challenging ones). There are days when the rock feels ridiculously heavy, and we don’t know if we’ll make it to the top. There’s definitely an absurdity to it all as well, especially if our work seems without purpose.
In class, we tossed around the idea that Sisyphus might enjoy the walk back down. Without the rock, despite his connection to it, he can relax and savor those moments without it. I think that our daily efforts need purpose, that we as humans crave a reason for what we do and want to be motivated each day to do it. Perhaps the rock is practicality–we want to love what we do each day, but we have to eat as well. I feel myself struggling with my own rock–work, dance, relationships, etc. I love much of my life but acknowledge its more challenging aspects as well.
In the end, I’ll have to side w/Camus and simply make the rock my own. We all have choices–choices to reduce the size of our rocks, or increase our rocks because we relish a challenge. For me, I think I’ll try to savor the walk back, and try to make use of my “down” time…