Enjoy the Frosting.
It was Sisyphus of Greek myth that defied the gods and was sentenced to an eternity of punishment. Shackled and chained sisyphus was to push a large boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down where he was to push it back up again. For eternity. Albert Camus philosophized that in his punishment, in his struggle, Sisyphus is happy. For having several times defied the gods and for having purpose, however mundane it is, Sisyphus chooses life. This is the baseline question we all must ask, "is life worth living" and I cannot answer that for you, yet I stand firm in saying "yes", no matter how you setup the formula.
This sets the baseline for my post today. I know it seems a bit deep to go in to asking "is life worth living" while talking about things like COVID-19 and the current US employment market, but if you have not answered the base question... the rest is irrelevant...
In the post I wish to talk about finding accomplishment. I wish to tell you that we are all in this moment much like Sisyphus. We are all here today struggling with the current situation. And while our situations may be different, you may be struggling to educate your children at home or struggling with ethical questions of mask wearing, we are both shackled in our current role and burdened with a task that seems, at times, too much for us to bear. This struggle, these tasks bring us anxiety, frustration, fear, and uncertainty. Many of us also dissociate these feelings from COVID and national market uncertainty, and associate them with trivial things like running out of lunch meat, or toilet paper. We have these anxious feelings that we cannot appropriately place, so we place them on things we know. We all are struggling.
But can you still be happy in this struggle?
As Sisyphus stands atop the hill, having successfully pushed the rock to the top, he feels joy, excitement, happiness for what he had accomplished. Even though the rock is currently rolling back to the bottom awaiting his return to the base to push it up again. He chooses to be happy, for the 1st time he pushes the rock to the top, for the 1000th, for the 10,000th, 1,000,000th. Like a runner celebrating reaching 1k, 5k, 100k. After all, running is only walking quickly, and walking is something most of us can do every day at least a little bit.
It is in these moments we can find happiness. We can feel better. We can feel like we are still moving forward in some way. In a time where it seems we have been living the same life since COVID's breakout role in March, we need the sense of forward progression. But now we cannot rely on the world to provide that forward progression for us. We need to set the goals ourselves. Set the starting line, the finish line, and count the wins. And if you've chosen "yes" to the fundamental question of life, then I say the rest is frosting on the cake. So why not enjoy the frosting?
Illustration by Temujin Doran and Max Robinson