Sisyphus is a character in Greek mythology, who had to roll a boulder uphill forever. It was a brutally hard job and exhausting, too. He gave it all his strength and when he finally had the boulder all the way up on top of the mountain… it would roll back down… and so he had to resume his strenuous task, a never-ending exercise in futility. The formula resist & repeat is a metaphor for hell.
Some of us relate. We know how it feels… the dedication to an impossible endeavor, resistance to the course of events, the impulse to do that thing that has never worked out … and denial of all the evidence to the contrary. A fear-based life with a repetition compulsion is just like that – as though we live in Sisyphus hell – enslaved by the desire to enforce circumstances and control people for fear that they might follow their own desires and things would remain out of reach. A life without confidence in fate can lead a person astray to questionable habits and rituals to ward off disquieting thoughts and future dangers.
It can’t be done. It’s really a waste of lifetime – enforcing wish fulfillment must remain an intangible feat. Life is wild, mysterious, and never ever stagnant. The need to dominate and assert control can be based on unconscious impulses where we essentially attempt to undo memories from the past when we were helpless. This is an impossible task and we get more rigid with it as time goes on, especially when people remain unresponsive to our demands. We get exhausted and frustrated – and so do the others. If we are unable to let go, people may withdraw. If we seek to “take the edge off” and forget it all by using substances to alter reality we add another dimension of suffering. When we finally get tired of that, too, we might become interested in serenity and peace.
Even though your fear tells you to hold on tightly, you must let go. It is as if your car is sliding downhill on a curvy slippery road. Your brakes can get locked and you may slip into disaster. It is the release of the break lock that enables you to steer out of the predicament.
The life of Sisyphus lacked flexibility, optimism, and faith. It was more against something than for something. He didn’t rethink and adjust his approach, either. In the absurdity of his isolation, he didn’t learn and he didn’t offer anything. His mental and physical strength were wasted. In trying to escape the status quo it can happen… that a person slides into Sisyphus hell where he repeats a behavior and expects different results. The stubborn insistence on control takes meaning out of the equation. The natural train of events, as well as one’s own reactions (based largely on memory) are part of the equation. Any fervent and unrelenting desire, which interferes with acceptance of what is, would further a sense of existential emptiness and pervasive meaninglessness. Foregoing the freedom of choice on this day by acting helpless creates hopelessness in the process. It’s about offering our gifts for the day, but then… it’s about turning it over to the Higher Powers, whatever they may be.
Hell would be the refusal to let go, trust fate, or at least acknowledge one’s existential limitations. Life is all about trial and error – and we engage, grow, and evolve with our tasks. Meanwhile, fate unfolds as it must. It is when we try to resist and control things that we realize that we can’t. When we raise our awareness and make peace with the forces of destiny – we find relief. On the spiritual path we become mindful of the big picture. We know that we are meant to go along with the requirements of the moment, knowing that we are not given the power to enforce our will onto destiny.
Sometimes doing nothing else but listen to the wind and the birds can be the best course of action. In case you’d let go of the arduous effort to dominate the other… you allow them to be on their path, too… and to stop resisting you. Happiness is when you bless them either way.