Such as Life And If So, One Must Imagine Sisyphus Happy.

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I’m no Greek scholar or trained in Stoicism, so I’ll ask in my own colloquial custom. How many times do you reckon this old world gobbled up the many who said, “I’m gonna show the world how tough I am!”? Probably at least a dozen hundred times I’d suspect, and I bet the old world was mean enough to say, “I’m gonna show you how tough you ain’t,” just before the condemned was masticated in those slow-moving jaws that never cease gnawing.

I recall the story of the Greek legend, Sisyphus, who was the king of Ephyra (or Corinth today). We are told that Poor Sisyphus was too high-strung, too self-assured, ambitious, and known for “self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness.”

The Gods punished Sisyphus for his insufferable behavior in life. His sentence was to roll a boulder up an impossible hill, only to have it roll back over him, once he finally reached the top. Helpless, he’d trek down the progress he’d made that day where he’d steady himself behind the boulder again there at the bottom of that hill, look up, eyes stinging from sweat and brightness from a midday sun, that never shone otherwise, sigh, wipe his brow, grip the punishing reminder the Gods set before him, lay his shoulder into it and repeat the monotonous routine that was his hard labor for eternity.

Was Sisyphus that bad of a guy, though? Or did life pluck him from the unfortunate few?

There’s something to be made out of Greek Tragedy. I suggest you look it up but as I understand a version of it, the Gods had a way of leading one along, success after success, only to bring him to personal failure or professional defeat. Think Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg (after thoroughly having his way with the Union Army and its, what, five previous commanders?– only to fail spectacularly in Pennsylvania during that hot July month in 1863– or Napoleon post-exile at Waterloo) or any other example as a sure thing launched only to see it crashing back down to earth.

Such as life is how the philosophers describe it but that’s too flippant here.

We return to Sisyphus, who was condemned by the gods to push a boulder up a hill. Perhaps old Sisyphus viewed life as a bleak joke. What if life to him was nothing more than a pretense, a thing not to be taken too seriously. Moreover wasn’t it Augustus, the man who turned a Roman Empire from clay to marble, that left us with the closing statement for his consequential place in history, “Have I played my part in the farce of life well enough?”

Irony and fitting words from a man who embodied Imperium.

Read how Albert Camus views cruel fate and how he detest the Gods! In fact, I gather from below that maybe the Gods envy us!

Truly, a man cannot be defeated as long as he knows who he is and understands what part he is to play.It’s when he forgets this and gives up that he will be destroyed.

“It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me. A face that toils so close to stones is already stone itself! I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end. That hour like a breathing-space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock. . .

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.”

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I Had a Dream a Few Nights Ago

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A few nights ago I had a very profound dream that ended with a complete thud or so I thought when I awoke. Over the days that followed it kept playing over and over in my mind. Last night as I lay in bed and it entered my mind I felt disappointed that it had so much potential at profoundness but ended like most dreams do: a nebular memory. Nonetheless, today I thought a lot about the dream, it’s context, it’s imagery, it’s meaning.

The dream…

Out of nowhere and no information as to why I was there, I appeared standing inside a what I’d say was an operations watch floor. In case you are wondering what an operations watch floor is, think of a secured facility with large plasma screens and real-time data being transmitted across those screens. Surely you’ve seen some of those cool military or NASA-like movies where there are scenes in such a setting.

In any case, I’m standing there looking at this huge screen that dominates the room. There’s a man standing next to me. He’s obviously there as my guide and to show me around. He’s handsome in a clean-cut kind of way, shorter than me, no facial hair, wearing a jacket — he’s very paramilitary — the kind of person I’ve met a thousand times. The kind of power-guy you see in and around Washington DC.

I look at this large screen and displayed is a map of the world. The continents are outlined with proper political boundaries. This place looks legit. The screen is busy. I can see events happening all across the world simultaneously and some regions are busier than others. The color depicting these events and their respective locations is white. It’s all white with flashes here and there and a seemingly steady white glow in other places.

I ask my guide, “What is happening up there. What do those lights mean?”

“Those are prayers going up.”

“Wow, I didn’t realize so many people prayed.”

“Yep. And He hears every one of them.”

“I always knew He existed. Does He hear my prayers?”

“Yup.”

I face my guide, “what did He say?”

“He told me to tell you to get a shovel.”

Puzzled but cognizant even in my dream, I respond “What does that mean?”

He told me, with a smile, which revealed age lines in the corner of his eyes but a set of nice straight teeth (he looked to be 42 or so) “you’ll have to look it up.”

And that’s it. That’s how it ended. I woke up trying to gather my senses and surroundings and admittedly felt disappointed about the ending.

What struck me afterward as I replayed this over and over was the mention of He. Clearly, we were discussing God and He was mentioned in the third person singular. He wasn’t there but I immediately understood where I was and the importance and awe of what I was seeing and hearing. It was like taking a tour of the president’s Situation Room. The president wasn’t there but he didn’t have to be to still be president and operate as the top consumer of all real-time data coming over those screens. It added to the awe and power and omnipresent feelings I felt.

So today I finally searched the meaning of shovels in dreams and I was so struck by what I read that I actually felt a bit uneasy about the whole thing. I’m just not that into this kind of stuff and I’m not that religious to start.

The shovel stands for the need to dig out something from your past and work towards personal forgiveness and happiness. To find peace. On a spiritual level, I’m told the shovel is the tool used towards inner knowledge. Additionally, the tool symbolizes a trustworthy person you can depend on for support or during times of adversities. (Search it if you care to. You’ll read about several meanings but remarkably the same as it relates to various religions and mysticism).

Considering the meaning, maybe the shovel represents Him as that trustworthy person, which explains the setting and the power and awe the dream provoked within me, standing there on that watch floor, and at the same time a message to me that there’s some self-help to do on my part.

I understand this might not mean a lot to a reader but considering the last couple of years of my life, the deep, deep regret I wake up with every day, the turmoil and change, the stress and anxiety, the depression and wrestling with my past, this dream gave me more answers than any friend or family member, any counselor, book, bottle of whiskey, or anything else I’ve tried or have yet to try, possibly could.

That’s not to say I haven’t come a long way over the course of a year or more as time tends to settle things to their new normal. However, this dream and its timing and meaning really propped me up and made me take notice.

It’s time to break out the shovel, friends.