Once the Gods were all metaphors. If you blacked out from too much wine Dionysus possessed you. If you couldn’t sleep due to heartbreak, it was because you weren’t showing enough respect to Aphrodite. Not sacrificing to Ares would leave your village without an army. But the metaphor for life, that was left to a man. A man named Sisyphus.
Sisyphus was a tricky king. He betrayed Zeus, seduced his niece, backstabbed his brother to get his throne and was an all around nice guy. As punishment Zeus gave him a task. There was a boulder he had to push up a hill. It would take all his strength to get it to the top and right as he reached the apex, Sisyphus would stumble and the boulder would come tumbling down and Sisyphus would have to start over.
Once when I was down a friend gave me the book The Myth of Sisyphus. It’s a weighty essay by Albert Camus that I never got around to finishing. The gist of it was that although life can seem repetitive, mundane, and pointless, the struggle is what life is all about. If your reason for living are your goals, whether it’s to be a billionaire, a Casanova, or an expert bridge player, you will ultimately be left unfulfilled. Just look at Sisyphus. He always got so close to getting that rock up to the peak, only to trip up and fail. According to Camus if you want to find any meaning in life, you must embrace the ride and not the destination.
But still it can be frustrating when Sisyphus enters your life. You can shave every day for a year and then you abstain from razors for a week and you have a beard. You can drink eight glasses of water a day for fifty years and still dehydrate under a hot sun. You can try your hardest every day and still you haven’t moved that rock any higher.