Am I Sisyphus now, now that life as I knew it seems impossible to reach?
Sisyphus, a character from a Greek myth, was condemned by the gods to forever push a rock up a mountain. Only to see it tumbling down every time he tries to reach the top. He never ever makes it.
Sisyphus is unhappy. The ultimate goal of life, we are led to believe, is to be happy. To manifest our way to a perfect life and to have all our desires come true. Dream big. Work hard. You will make it. Sisyphus is a failure.
The past weeks have been a challenge for me, in learning to accept that life as I know it, no longer exists for me. What I thought my path in life would be, disappeared after suffering a stroke. A damaged left side of my brain, whereas I used to rely on my creativity, my (spoken)words. Who am I after the therapy ends and I am left with the irreversible parts of this damage? I became Sisyphus. Compared myself to his ‘awful faith’. Every morning I woke up feeling numb. Every day the same disappointments, facing all the things I still could not do – I was pushing a rock up a hill only to see it tumbling down after all. I never make it.
But what if Sisyphus was actually… Happy, in the end?
Albert Camus wrote an essay on the myth of Sisyphus. He is convinced of the ‘contended acceptance’ of the man. Camus does not believe in Sisyphus’ permanent struggle and pain. Sisyphus eventually realises how futile his activity is, he acknowledges the absurdity of his task. He frees himself from the need to reach the top. He learns to stop caring only about himself. Instead he values the activity and whatever crosses his path. A metaphor for life, which in itself is futile but worth living. In the words of Camus, ‘one must imagine Sisyphus happy’.
By holding ourselves hostage in the paradigm that life is about striving towards happiness which equals monetary gains, and that it is our sole responsibility to create a life for ourselves filled with achievements (reaching the top!) and prestige, we are condemned to an empty life, often times filled with disappointment.
All ‘programs’ roaming LinkedIn promising us ‘a 4 hour work week’, ‘365 days of happiness’, ‘Time to Thrive’ and the likes of such – Those should be treated to an old fashioned Greek myth of their own – because they’re not serving us.
No one is born with the right to happiness. But everybody is born with the right to wonder, delight, and love, warmth. Just like the myth of Sisyphus shows.
So yes, I am Sisyphus now. But that is not a punishment. It is a lesson in life.