Rolling On

Sep. 16th, 2013 06:01 pm
dormant_dragon: Sleepy Stan from 'All Yesterdays' (Default)
[personal profile] dormant_dragon
In an Ancient Greek myth, Sisyphus is condemned by the gods to spend eternity rolling a rock uphill, only to watch it roll back down to the bottom, every time. As it was likely intended to be in its original telling, this is a great metaphor for the often tedious tasks of living in the world; and some days I can really feel the weight of the rock and the seeming pointlessness of continuing to push it. Progress, when it's discernible at all, is painfully slow.

It's at times like these that I like to take a step back and consider the process of working towards a goal. It seems like the most straightforward thing in the world - you want to achieve something, you make a plan for how you're going to  proceed, you work through the plan, you achieve your goal, rinse, repeat. Sure, it's never actually that simple - real life throws up challenges and setbacks and changes of direction all the time; but there does seem to be a deeply ingrained belief that in life, we're always heading towards something - or we should be, otherwise what's the point?

What indeed? And why should there even be a point to it all? Maybe there isn't and we're just so busy counting the trees that we completely miss the beauty of the forest; too busy ticking off the great landmarks in life to notice the pretty little rest stops along the way. I know I spent much of my life doing just that.

During my adolescence, I felt keenly the expectation that I would have a plan for how my life would progress beyond school and accordingly, I formulated such a plan. I set out to push my rock uphill. I would go to university, I would study to be a teacher and I would follow in the footsteps of my aunt and those of my own teachers whom I admired and respected. So far, so good. 

Only it all went pear-shaped after I actually started my career as a teacher, only to discover that in fact, it really wasn't something for which I was suited. That was the first time the rock came crashing back down the hill. In hindsight, it would probably have been better had I taken a break in between my BA and my BEd - in which case, I suspect it's unlikely I would have done the BEd at all. By the time I got there, I had already begun to rethink my life path. I realised at last that I was not the kind of person who lived to work but for whom work was a means of supporting my other interests. I had a new rock, one that had been patiently waiting for me to help it on its way up.

So there I was, on the other side of the country from where I'd grown up, struggling to find work as anything other than a teacher (having apparently defined myself as such). It was fortunate that I discovered teletext captioning, something I didn't even know existed as a job of work until I applied for it. So that became my bread and butter - something I was good at, that didn't stress me out, that would provide me with an income whilst I pursued more interesting and creative avenues. It seemed a light, undemanding burden.

In the meantime, other things were happening. I was building relationships, learning about myself (sometimes painfully), pursuing hobbies to a greater extent than I would have thought possible; during this time, some of the most significant milestones of my life occurred, which had nothing to do with gainful employment - that was just the backdrop against which the real drama of my life was played out. It was as if I took time out from the uphill toil to explore the landscape either side of the path.

Eventually, the work I did to earn a living began to seem far too much like the situation of Sisyphus - constantly pushing the rock uphill only to watch it roll back down again. My whole life took on this sameness - there was no change, no progress, nothing but the same old struggle every day; and having recognised it as such, the struggle just became harder and harder, seemed more and more pointless, less and less rewarding.

So I left that rock at the bottom of the hill.

Now I have a whole new rock, one that I have only just begun to push toward the summit. Sooner or later, I will get there, only to watch as this new rock, perhaps still coloured with the charm of novelty, goes tumbling back to base camp. I know it will happen; but that's okay - because each time I set out to push the rock back up the hill, I will find ways to make the experience different. I'm not going to waste my time planning exactly how I'll get the rock from the bottom to the top of the hill; instead I'll leave myself open to possibilities. I'll welcome those who offer me their companionship for the journey; I'll prop up the rock at convenient resting points and enjoy the view from different places on the hill; and above all, I'll resist the temptation to define my existence in terms of how far I've progressed.

Date: 2013-09-17 02:33 am (UTC)
japester: (Default)
From: [personal profile] japester
New life goals
- replace old rocks with new rocks.
- replace old hill with new hills.

End up with pile of rocks surrounded by hills.

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