Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Your Sisyphus Paradigm

One thing for which you can be grateful today, and every day, is that your parents did not name you "Sisyphus."

Taking a look back at Greek mythology gives us an interesting view on human nature - the part of us that hasn't changed over the last few millenia or so.

To refresh your memory, Sisyphus was a clever, but uppity and unscrupulous Greek god; he was also the first king of Corinth. He got into trouble numerous times but finally when he tried to blackmail Zeus, he got into really big trouble. In the end, he was punished by having to push a huge boulder up a mountain. Once he reached the top of the mountain with his boulder, it rolled back down to the bottom and Sisyphus would have to start all over again. This term for this punishment, by the way, was eternity -- no time off for good behavior.

I used to struggle with the feeling that cleaning up the house, or teaching a course was rather....Sisyphean. You work sooooo hard, finish the task, and then you have to start right back over again. So many things in life are like that!

That's why we have to focus on the journey, and not the destination. Ten-year-old Christina made a little sign for me above my kitchen sink (in my dishwasher-free kitchen) that says "work with joy."

Easy for her to say. But she is right.

A friend in Atlanta wrote me yesterday, not too happy about having to read two phone books' (referring to length) worth of new IRS code (tiny print he assures me). I'm sure as soon as he finishes getting those tax reforms down, the IRS will deliver a new, bigger, tinier-print book of even newer changes.

You can see it as drudgery. Or you can just see it as stuff that needs to be done. As least your parents didn't name you "Sisyphus"