The Myth of Sisyphus, and …


There are three versions of the Myth of Sisyphus that I am aware of.

The first version is the original one.

In Ancient Greek mythology Sisyphus displeases the gods, and they sentence him to roll a heavy boulder up a hill. Once he gets to the top of the hill with the boulder the gods make it roll all the way back down again. And Sisyphus has to trudge down the hill and start the whole process over again … for eternity.

The second version is presented in Albert Camus’ 1942 essay “The Myth of Sisyphus”. Camus doesn’t alter much of the original version, except Camus says this at the very end of his book:

I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the highest fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks … The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart.

One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

— Albert Camus

The third version of the Myth of Sisyphus was written/imagined by me after a particularly arduous bushwack up a steep slope carrying a very heavy pack.

Those 3 waterfalls are coming straight out of the limestone rock formations! They are fed from an underground stream. On route to Tipperary Lake and the summit of Mount Back , 2015

Toward Mineral Pass, Central Purcells 2009. Just around here we found some bleached bones of a mountain goat, so I called this spot “The place where old goats go to die”. I was pretty tired.

In my version of the Myth, Sisyphus doesn’t have to push a big, heavy boulder up a steep slope … he has to carry a big, heavy pack (usually in places with no trails). The gods have mandated that he carry said pack up and over mountain passes, and then he has to trudge down the other side, maybe go through some alpine meadows, or do an icy creek crossing, and then he has to begin the arduous ascent of the next slope. He has been mandated to do this for eternity. He travels with his burden throughout the Catastrophe.

Coral Pass, with the Italian Group in the background, the Elk-Limestone Traverse 2007.

One has to imagine Steve happy

— Steve (paraphrasing Camus)

This third version of the Myth is a parable for Appreciation and Attention. Something to keep in mind is that Steve-Sisyphus is not “happy” in an unthinking or mindless way. Nay, Nay! He is happy in spite of the Catastrophe, and he is happy because he has thoughtfully examined his adventure. He is happy because of his mindfulness.

Two key questions arise from the paragraph above. Whilst carrying his burden up the hill:

  • What is Steve Appreciating?, and
  • Where is Steve focusing his Attention?
    • (or, Upon what is Steve focusing his Attention?)

One response to “The Myth of Sisyphus, and …”

  1. Sisyphus never got to enjoy a descent because he knew another fruitless push of rock uphill awaited him. You however enjoy each descent knowing that the subsequent ascent will make you happy (bushwhack or not) in spite of the catastrophy.

    Like

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