Living Like Sysyphus

In the beginning of the semester we discussed the different aspects of thanatology and the one I found most interesting was the philosophical aspect. I took a philosophy class last semester and read an essay called The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus. The Myth of Sisyphus is the story of a man named Sisyphus that was condemned by the gods to push a heavy, gigantic rock to the top of a mountain for all of eternity. There was one small problem, once he got the rock to the top, it would fall. Its own weight and the pull of gravity caused the rock to fall down the mountain and so Sisyphus would go to the bottom and start pushing it back up all over again. Many would agree that Sisyphus’s efforts were pointless and futile; but doesn’t getting that minute feeling of great accomplishment when he reaches the top of the mountain make Sisyphus’s efforts all worth it?

When we hear of the story of Sisyphus we probably thought that he wasn’t a very wise man, why push up a rock that you know is going to fall the moment you get it to the top? This is exactly what our lives are like; we work every day to get to the top, to get that glimpse of greatness; whether this is graduating or getting a new job we work like slaves to make it to the top but eventually, one day we start from the bottom all over again. We graduate high school, then we graduate college, then we graduate grad school then hopefully get a job, all for a better ‘tomorrow’. As humans, we live in the tomorrow; everything we do today is for a better tomorrow, but when does the tomorrow finally come? One day this all will end and we will die but the world will keep turning even if we are not in it. Camus explains that we should do as Sisyphus; he knew his life had no purpose but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t live it. To acknowledge and accept that there is no purpose and to choose to still go on living life for that small moments of greatness is the most reasonable answer to the question of the meaning of life.
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2 thoughts on “Living Like Sysyphus

  1. I just wanted to say really like the message in this post. It is so true that we as humans have this habit of living in the future (or past) and are constantly working to build a better, happier, more satisfying tomorrow. We are always working towards some future goal or achievement. Sometimes we even forget that the is even a today, as a result of our intense focus on pushing the boulder up that mountain. And then in the end, death takes all our achievements and experiences and blows them into oblivion. Why all this work when we just end up losing everything in the end? Well, as you said, the pleasure and joy and bliss in life come in moments you experience in your journey through life. Even if our lives ultimately have no purpose, it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy them fully! Very insightful post.

  2. The meaning to life could potentially have an infinite amount of answers, but I feel that Albert Camus really grasped a view that many fail to comprehend; how one “feels” while they are doing something effects your outlook on it all! We have been working, struggling, and/or suffering for years and sometimes it seems as if one is riding a roller coaster of successful times and unsuccessful times; essentially leaving you feeling the way you started, like Sysyphus. When we have those moments that we would do anything to re-live, it seems as if everything up until then was worth it and we are happy or satisfied with life, and isn’t that the glory of it all? Very nice post!

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