Today is one of those unbelievable days in Palo Alto where summer just shows up. Actually, it showed up about three days ago, but today it hit me. I worked from home today, and went for a small walk in the middle of the day. The air was hot and heavy with sun and honey-fragrance… the smell of every tree in the neighborhood bursting into flower.
I can only shudder at the architecture. I have proof that hell is other people– who could possibly build low concrete groveling beasts like the retail shops that line el camino. Who could come to this place, of flowering trees and rolling hills and the promise of the ocean and the comfort of the bay and say, heck, good spot as any for concrete?
Despite the sins of the developer, my neighborhood is full of trees that mitigate the houses’ hubris, and gardens that are tended enough to be full of life, ignored enough to feel human. One homeowner has decided to replace his lawn with daisies. Nearly every house has citrus– oranges everywhere, grapefruits, lemons and tiny trees bent under giant pomelos.
So I’m at home, the garden is popping with daffodils, and I trying to force myself to work. to work! to –> work.
and I come across a reference to The Myth of Sisyphus. Mark is clearly struggling to find meaning in his existence from the myth, and Camus’s reading of the myth is a tailor fit. But me, I begin to reread and find I’d forgotten that Sisyphus had left Hades (hell) to chastise his wife, and found life was just too lovely and refused to go back to hell. And that is why he got stuck with the rock-pushing gig.
“His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing. ”
He is the original slacker? The grasshopper! the one that refuses to do as he ought. He is the man who doesn’t feel like working.
So how does he cheat Hades, and transcend his fate? By enjoying rock-pushing. “If the descent is thus sometimes performed in sorrow, it can also take place in joy. ” Work can suck, but it can give a joy also. No matter its nature.
So today work sucks, mostly because nature is doing a tapdance outside my window. But soon enough my mind will return to my labor and it is fine. It is my fate; I choose my labor, sometimes it doesn’t compare to play, but sometimes it is better. It is always *my* labor, it is always my life and it is always mine to interpret and to be present in.
“I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy .”