This was a Facebook status I just read:
Sisyphus angered the gods and was condemned to endlessly push a huge rock up to the mountaintop. It took all he had. Soon as he got to the top, the rock would fall back to the bottom. This was his eternal fate. If you look closely, Sisyphus is smiling. He has decided to make the struggle itself a worthwhile experience. Sisyphus is free.
I was speaking to a friend this morning about where I’m at emotionally. Sometimes—or often—I resist where I’m at. Lately, it’s been boredom and loneliness. Truth be known, I have enough distractions to stave off these feelings, but the moment I let of the distraction throttle, they are there. Real and irritating.
As real as they are, I spend a good deal of time pretending they are neither real nor irritating. I don’t want to be Sisyphean. I see the need for people and activity a never-ending struggle—there will never be enough people to satisfy my need for attention; there will never be interesting or enough activities to satisfy my boredom. I get it in my head. But it’s not my experience of life. I still want to be around people and I still like activity. I still keep pushing the boulder up the hill.
But might the source of the suffering be the resistance to pushing? Sisyphus learned to love the struggle. I just struggle with the struggle.
This last week, I’ve decided not to go out to a couple events because I didn’t want to go alone. Going alone to me represents my neediness. A self-realized being can stay home and be self-satisfied. He doesn’t need worldly talk of Congolese marine life (it was a talk at the Museum of Natural History). He doesn’t need to ask that girl out. He can just sit at home and meditate for the benefit of all living beings.
But he doesn’t meditate. He watches Godfather III (three hours he will never get back). He stuffs his face with whatever food is sitting around the house. He checks his email one too many times for a Saturday night.
So which is better, enjoying the struggle or pretending to not be in the struggle?
This week, I want to be unabashedly struggling. I depend on people and activity. I will accept invitations. I will ask girls out because I don’t really want to be alone. It’s not pretty, but it’s what is so. I will try to learn and love this rock—what the Buddhists call Samsara, the cycle of suffering, birth and rebirth. Who am I kidding, pretending that I’m not struggling? Almost all of us are. Whether we will struggle to pretend that we are not struggling is optional.