I read what an old philosopher wrote about Sisyphus. Sisyphus was the one who was condemned by the gods to roll a stone to the top of a mountain, only to have the rock fall back down the warn path when it was within but inches of the peak. Down it goes. And so back up he goes to meet the inches-away point again...before the sound of rumbling of the tumbling boulder drowns out the defeated and repeated sigh as Sisyphus treads back down his beaten path to shoulder up the rock again. This philosopher explained the reasons he thought Sisyphus wasn't as bad off as people generally assume, how there actually must have been some pleasure in his work. I could not stop disagreeing with this man. The thought of Sisyphus's curse is one I cannot dream of enduring. Futile labor, energy spent for nothing, seems to me one of the worst curses.
I had coffee with a friend the other afternoon. Besides the occasional glance over my shoulder and out the window to confirm the thought that the patrol officer's round hadn't yet brought him to my car, this was a time of focus. We were exchanging concerns and confessing temporary feelings of futility and pain. An analogy came forth.
Imagine a man walking up a steep hill with the hot desert sun beating down on his back and a bulky sack loaded full of heavy, jagged rocks slung over his shoulder. No matter the distance that has been climbed thus far, the summit is still but a theory - unseen. All this man can do is hope that the apex is just beyond this next ridge; sometimes the bravest thing is hope.
For a section of time my fellow traveler and I focused our conversation on this mountain, on these rocks, and on the emptiness beyond sadness futility brings.
It was not the top of the mountain, but a point was reached. Sisyphus is different than us. There is an end to our climbing. Though it feels as if we have been in this place for ages, and that this place has gotten the better of us, we will not be forever in this place. This is sometimes the only reason we keep going, if but for the simple fact that there is a summit, and once this summit is reached, we can rest. Though the last thing we want to do is move one more seemingly futile foot up this mountainside, we know this movement brings us closer for things longed for.
So up we go. The climb continues.