Meditation on Present Day Sisyphus
I woke this morning to see the rain and to watch the parking lot attendants in their rain gear as they ran to fill their lot with cars. Each car had its own place depending on when the driver would most likely want to pick up their vehicle. Spaces were left open for shorter term up front. End of day cars were left in the back.
Nothing really changes from day to day for these Sisyphean players. Sure one driver may want their car at 6:15 instead of 6:00, but for the most part their morning is dependent upon taking the keys from the driver, driving that driver's car into slot 57, and leaving until the driver appears again at the end of the day for one word of pleasantries before driving home.
During the day the driver has his or her own Sisyphean tasks to perform, rolling their own boulder up the hill, only to see it roll back down when they head home for the evening commute, condemned to the absurdity of performing same meaningless set of tasks over and over again. Are the parking lot attendants happy? Is the owner of the Audi? Am I as I watch them?
As Camus wrote decades ago, "The struggle itself is enough to fill a man's heart. One must thus imagine Sisyphus happy." As long as none of us steps out of our role, or our place, then we must be happy. For a time we were. But then came the Kardashians, showing all of us just how the other half lives. The internet came with Facebook in tow to show us just how dull our lives are when held up to the bright lights of the supposed glitz and glamour of how we could be living, and in that moment the general malaise and dissatisfaction with who we are and what we are doing has increased. The idea of "happiness" becomes a new concern and point of stress.
Weren't we happy yesterday?
I turn from my window to jot this idea down, just as the attendant rain returns to his cold and damp hut to avoid the rain, just now jealous of the man in the warm and dry Range Rover. The man in the Range Rover looks back at the hut thinking of the attendant, jealous in so many ways, of his simple monastic life, free from the mortgages, commutes, and the pressures of his own life. Each compares the realities of his own existence to the selective dreams of the other whom they barely know.
The protection each of us has are the delusions we ourselves maintain, building our own twisting labyrinth we must run through to avoid the Minotaur that is just a step behind. Each of us creates our own life. Each of us has made choices with which we perceive our existence.
Existence does not change, it is the same as it always has been. Our primordial great, great, great, great grandparents played out their roles in this play we call life everyday when they climbed down from the trees in search of a fresh kill to scavenge, what we now think of as weeds to pick and eat. Their minotaur was the very real wolf or lion that lurked for their own meal.
The ancient Greeks illuminated their own efforts to beat their demons through their mythology. We do it today through mindless entertainment, be it rooting for a football team, watching the Kardashians, or in the material pursuit of spirituality. It works until we are called to task and have to step off the stage we created for ourselves, into real life, free from delusion.
That is the moment we truly see ourselves, naked and alone we truly are, huddling together for warmth in the rain.
This is the absurdity of life. It will continue again and again, in tremendous Sisyphean cycles, as the universe expands and contracts, as great galaxies spin, as the planets orbit the sun, as we are born to live and die.
Be happy. Rejoice in the labor of life that set us up for moments of love. Rejoice in every step of your Sisyphean struggle. For that is all there is. It may seem insane, but those tasks are all that connects us in the here and now with the ever-spinning gears of existence.
Yes, you are a cog in the greater wheels of eternity, but at least you fit in somewhere, the alternative to which is madness indeed.