Was Sisyphus afraid of moss?

I’m sitting at the bus stop this morning, waiting for the morning bus.  There are a few reasons for that.  Actually, I suppose if one were to drill down, one could probably find many reasons—or at least, many causes­—but the main ones are:  1) I’ve walked over 24 miles in the last two days, and though my left knee support thingy is helping, there is still some twinging in the knee, and B) I am trying out a new pair of shoes.

By that, I mean, I am trying a new model of shoe, so to speak, though they are from the same company as usual.  I didn’t want to give them the full 12 miles on their first day, in case there is any chafing or rubbing in new areas that’s going to be likely to cause new blisters.  I really don’t want that, since my other shoes—the ones I haven’t discarded—are not causing blistering, even with the new ankle supports, even with a full 12 mile days.

I should let you all know, I have bitten the bullet and ordered a new bike post and seat.  They don’t come together as one “item”, which strikes me as odd, but maybe it’s not; maybe that’s the usual way things go in the world of bicycles.  There may be good reasons for it.

Anyway, I don’t know if reading Matthieu Ricard’s book is helping me, or if it was a comment/suggestion of encouragement from my cousin—most likely some combination of both things and just a general stubbornness on my part—but I decided to try it, to get a new seat.  It’s nice to be able to get back to the house before eight o’clock sometimes rather than at about nine (or even later).  I just have to remember to run my locking cable through the seat base when I park the bike.

I don’t know that this will change any of my long-term plans (if that’s even the right term).  Certainly if I get this new seat and post and something else goes wrong, I’m going to be quite perturbed.  That interference with my expected plans is a large part of what made me so upset—maybe that’s part of my possible undiagnosed Asperger’s or something, I don’t know.  On the other hand, a large part of it is certainly down to my dysthymia/depression, with which I’ve had to deal since at least my mid-teens.  As it turns out, that can be secondary to/a complication of Asperger’s, so it could all be intertwined.

I’ve recently come to the realization, which I’ve commented on before, that apparently I have a rather blank expression on my face a lot of the time, even when I feel like I’m conveying severe misery.  The closest I came to being expressive, recently, was last week, when I was having an exceptionally bad, three-sigma at least, outlier day with respect to pain, and I was just miserable and in agony, despite far too much medicine and stretching and back massage machines and whatnot.

Someone in the office asked if I was tired, because apparently that’s what my face was expressing.

I’ve never really thought of myself as expressionless, but I do remember, for a long time, practicing smiling in the mirror, partly just so I could think of myself as someone who was happy (or at least looked happy) and partly because I wanted to have a good smile.  That’s long gone, of course; I don’t tend to smile at myself in the mirror anymore.

If anything, I feel rather surprised sometimes when I look in the mirror, as if thinking, “Oh, yeah, that guy.  I forgot that’s what he looked like.”  You would think I would be used to my face by now.  But it very much doesn’t feel like me when I see it, though as my sister has pointed out (quite correctly), that is not so surprising since I don’t normally have access to it; I’m on the inside, or words to that effect.  Maybe this is everyone’s experience, I don’t know.

It’s been a very long week so far, already, and it’s only now Wednesday morning*, which means today I have to do the payroll.  I haven’t even gotten started on the payroll this week so far, because I’ve just been too discouraged and despondent and tired.  Hopefully, taking the bus this morning will conserve at least a little of my energy and make things somewhat easier today.

Either way, I’ll do it, and I’ll probably do it quickly and accurately and well, and it will look easy to those on the outside, because I’ve been doing it for a while, and I know how to do it.  When I’m supposed to do something, however miserable I feel, I just tend to do it, to keep going, and only occasionally grumble a bit but not really make any kind of stink—and apparently it doesn’t even really show on my face that I’m in despair.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I think it bears repeating, or re-exploring, that the horror of Sisyphus’s punishment in the myth is not merely that he was forced to keep rolling his boulder up the mountain, or hill, or whatever, only to have it roll down again each time.  The true horror was that he felt compelled to do it, somehow.

It’s not as though an ordinary person would keep doing it, surely.  They’d be all, “Blow this for a lark” and let the boulder fall.  I’m sure that some other punishment would be enacted, but even Prometheus could recognize that, though he suffered horribly every day, it wasn’t his own doing.  His own mind had not been made into the vessel and source of his torment.

Sisyphus was a bit like all those people who walked calmly to the stake or to the gallows or to the guillotine or to the electric chair or whatever.  Why did they do that?  Why do people not at least force their executioners to drag them to the place of execution?  Why do they not fight?  Would I be the same in such circumstances?

It’s bizarre.  I mean, good luck trying to get a cat or a wolverine, or even a squirrel, to go along with you toward a situation that it even suspects is a danger to its life.  You will not come away without wounds.  Yet even unjustly sentenced humans go quietly most of the time.

It’s pretty stupid, if you ask me.  Which may in turn sound stupid coming from someone who often feels suicidal.  But if it’s my choice and I’m the one doing it—to whatever extent that even makes sense—then that’s at least a choice of some kind.  But you can’t tell me that, if Prometheus got a hand free, he wouldn’t have done his best to throttle Zeus’s eagle.

That, again, is the horror of Sisyphus, even though his punishment is less gory.  He has become his own hell.  Maybe that’s true of us all.  It’s certainly often true of me.


*A fact that I cannot state without triggering the beginning of the Beatles song She’s Leaving Home in my head.  As my ex-wife might have said, this is one of my buttons, and when you push them—even when I push them myself—there will be a programmed response.

One thought on “Was Sisyphus afraid of moss?

  1. Not moss but momentum doth a rolling stone gather.
    Lol. As if I am some poet.

    Great that you can fix up the saddle and ride again.

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