Talking to Sisyphus

“Hey!Hey!what are you doing? Do I look like  a beach or waterfall to you that you’re conveniently taking pictures?”

“Oops! Sorry buddy!I didn’t mean to offend you. But you were so engrossed in your task,that I didn’t want to disturb you either.By the way, I’m ME and you are...?”

Sisyphus looked at me quizzically.He must be thinking I’m crazy or something.”I’m Sisyphus”.

“Nice to meet you Sir.That’s a pretty tough job you have there.” I pointed to the big boulder that was lying beside him.”So,what exactly do you do?”I asked.

I guess,I had offended him quite a bit with that question.He just stood there with his hands crossed in front of his chest and stared at me with narrowed eyes.

“Nothing of consequence to you.Now, if you’re done with your sight-seeing,I’d like to go back to relive my curse.” He was agitated.

“Curse?” I was puzzled.”What do you mean?”,I asked.

“Do you mind leaving me alone Mister? As you can see,I don’t have all the time in the world that I can spend frolicking around! I have to push this damn boulder up this hill until it rolls back down again.” The agitation was building up in his voice.

“And what do you have to do after that?” I asked innocently.

Sisyphus had just begun to push the boulder up,when he stopped all his efforts mid-way to glare at me.For a second,I was scared.I stepped back.May be I had stepped on an unchartered territory.I mean,what did I know? I was just a tourist. I was just trying to help...I had all these thoughts running through my mind,when he started screaming.

“After that??After ask?Well,nothing!It will come down and I,like an idiot,will gather all my courage,my senses,my strength and start pushing it back again.Again it will reach the top,and then roll down..and I will keep doing this till I die! And you know why will I do this?Because I’m cursed!Because,the mighty Gods couldn't find any other way to punish me...”

And Sisyphus broke down.His body just collapsed on the ground.There he was tired,exhausted,frustrated,angry,on his knees,on the ground.

“Here,have some water,” I offered.

“Thank you Mister.You are very kind and I’m sorry to have acted out like this. It’s been long since someone came my way and actually spoke to me.Mostly,humans come,look at me,show some sympathy and walk away.”Sisyphus spoke in the saddest voice I had ever heard.

“Can I sit beside you for a while? If you don’t mind..?” I asked.

He smiled.I sat down.

There was something about him,that didn’t allow me to leave him like this.I wanted to know more.Did I want to help him? I don’t know.I don’t even know if he needed help.May be,just someone to talk to.

“So,you said you are cursed.Is that true?”

“Yes.I am.It is true.I did some things for which I was punished.This is my punishment.”He replied.

“So,what is the end state? When does it get over? How do you know that it’s the time to stop? That you have served your sentence?”I shot these questions all at once.My mind was racing with so many of them.

Sisyphus laughed.”There is no end to it Mister.That is my life. It’s like someone pushed you onto a buzzing race track and told you to run. Everyone is running.There is madness,chaos and just running.But there is no finish line.No one is sitting there to tell you who won,who lost,who is cheating.You just go on and on till you realize, you can no longer do it.”

I couldn't make sense of what he was saying. How does his punishment not have an end?Why would there be a race,if there is no finish line, no judges,no parameters? This was all absurd.How can someone say such absurd things?

“But,you always have choices..don’t you?,” What did I just say?”

“What choice do I have Mister?” He asked as if I could offer some divine insights.

“What are you doing now Sisyphus?”

“Why,I am talking to you!”He looked at me as if I was insane for asking such an obvious question.

“So....isn't that a choice that you made? To take a break from your monotonous job,let out your frustration,have a conversation with someone?,” I had no clue of what I was saying.

“So,will this conversation end my sorrows? End my punishment?”,the agitation was building up again in him.

“No.I didn't say that. But,what I am saying is,that you’re not alone in this absurdity.What is a punishment for you,is life for everyone else.We too,work hard,aspire to reach the top and one day,everything comes spiraling down.We pick up and start again,”I said.

“At least you know what you have to do!What about me? Can you even begin to imagine how hard this task is for me? And every time this damn boulder rolls down, it breaks my soul.”He was in tears.

“I can’t even get out of it-this meaningless task and existence”.

“But it does have meaning!May be less but certainly non-existent! Everyone feels sad and distraught,when things don't go our way.But,that's what life is all about..”, I said and I was blabbering.

“Meaningless means there is no meaning Mister!Just like a race with no finish line! You would never know when to stop,whom to take over,when to take a break..”Sisyphus argued.

“But may be ,that is the point.We are all thrown into existence.Just like you were thrown into this punishment or the race that we are told to run!And we know what we have to do!Yet, we like to imagine contrary states of existence and like to feel miserable.

And we have choices.May be, they aren't exactly to our heart’s desire. But... they are there. We just need to find that one or those,that resonate with us,our existence.” I wondered if was I making any sense.

“Your job is,to roll this boulder up again and again.Your actions led to this punishment. But do you accept this fact? No.

Punishment wasn't random.It was a consequence of your action.So,you had a choice of accepting responsibility.You can’t have the freedom to commit and the choice to turn away from its responsibility.

Then,you had the choice of accepting the fact,that there is no end.But there are breaks; like the one you’re taking now-sitting and talking to me.You could talk to those many others who sympathize with you,make some friends who could keep you company. Admire the sunset and the sunrise. Most people don’t even know what dusk and dawn is...

You could brainstorm and come up with different strategies to keep the boulder on top!Ask for help and someone will come! could have run away.... and then could have born the consequences for that as well...” I rambled on.

“You know,everyone is  another ‘You’-engrossed in their own struggles.Running their own race.And it’s just very convenient to have someone validate our efforts and existence.Like in a race.

So, a race without a finish line would’t be devoid of meaning.May be,less meaningful.

If I know,I just have to run and never to finish;I will live.”Was I making sense to myself?

“So,you will keep running? Without a goal?”,Sisyphus was deeply puzzled by now.

“Who said without a goal? For once,can I not use my own mind and heart to make my own goals? I may not win the entire race.But I can choose to over-take the racer right ahead of me or I can slow down if I’m tired.I can rest for as long as I want.I can give up and then get back again or wait for someone to bail me out.Then I need to be patient as well!

I can observe and learn from all the other racers around me.I can befriend some of them and share little anecdotes on life.

I don’t think The Supreme Power(if there is),gave all of us a mind,just so we could lock it away.It’s my race,my life,my choice-isn't it? Yes, what I am thrown into,at times,may not be my choice.But,I can always choose to be here and now and do whatever best I can.”

“I may not win the race.But it doesn't mean I can’t be my own winner. And sooner or later,we all will die.That,is the ultimate finish line and no one can erase that.No one can judge your death.People may sit on the periphery of the race track and have their opinions.But,they can't change the ultimate.But,the racer has the choice of how he wants to run” I said.

Sisyphus got up and started looking around for something.

“Hey,what are you looking for?”,I asked.

“Tools”,he said.

“My punishment was to make this boulder stay on top.I think,with some tools,I might be able to...someday.”,He said with a tiny smile spreading across his face.

“I think I might have something in my bag that can help you”, And i took out a hammer and a few nails and handed them to him.

“Hey,something’s written on the hammer,” he said.

“What?Read it,”I urged him.

It said “WILL”.

Our eyes locked,and we smiled at each other.”I guess,'WILL' is all you need then,my friend”.

#This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.#


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