Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sisyphus and college

As this semester comes to a close, I have taken a chance to look back and reflect on my first semester as a college student. Looking back at when I started vs now, it seems like it has been a much longer than a couple months. Many things have changed (more than I expected) and I feel as though I have grown as a person during that time. As I this semester has progressed, I have begun to think about the classic Greek myth of Sisyphus and how I relate to him.

As a reminder to all of yall, the myth of Sisyphus is a tale about a king who was sentenced to an eternal punishment by the gods. He was punished for his deceitfulness; he would violate all of the laws of Zeus, such as plotting to kill his brother for his own gain, and exposed one of his secrets by revealing the whereabouts of the nymph Aegina to her father. Sisyphus's punishment for these these actions were that he was condemned to roll a stone up a mountain for eternity, and whenever it fell back to bottom of the hill, he would have to go retreat to the bottom and start again.  They thought that there was no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor. The struggle, the gods thought, was in that he is conscious the entire time; conscious of only himself and that there was no possibility of success in the task he was performing. Many times in this semester I have thought to myself the same thoughts as Sisyphus; why am I here? Doing all this work in college when I could have quit after I school? I have no obligations to do this work. Nobody is forcing me to do this, and I don't enjoy most of it, so what's the point? I begin to think like this when I have lots of schoolwork to do or am typing an essay that I don't enjoy. These thoughts were more prevalent in the beginning of the semester, as I expected my workload to be different than that in high school, and was surprised when it was quite similar. However, my attitude has slowly changed to a more positive one. Where Sisyphus and I differ is that I have something to look forward to that he doesn't: success. My time here at MTSU is giving me an opportunity to get a degree, and that's what I'm here working toward, and why I'm learning what I am. There is nothing, in my mind, worse than what Sisyphus has to endure. And he has to do it for all eternity. When I think about what he has to do, it makes me realize that my hour and a half long assignment is only a blimp in my life, and will allow me to get into the classes that I actually want to be and learn about the things that I am interested in. Sisyphus has an entire eternity to look forward to... Nothing. I would consider myself a goal oriented person, so not having a point to a task is very demoralizing. This leads me to what I have begun thinking about recently; how to live my life so that I may not live like Sisyphus.

Professor Oliver showed us a cartoon of Sisyphus in class and I thought it was funny so I decided to go look at some more, and I noticed that a large majority of the cartoons that I were seeing involved Sisyphus in an office of some kind, or were at a type of work. These cartoons have me thinking about jobs and what I want to do after college. I may not know exactly what I want to do yet, but I do know one thing for absolute certain; I will not let myself turn into him. I will continue to let myself pursue my goals and do what I want, and not let my life become a series of constant, mundane, pointless tasks like his. As long as I don't allow myself to lose my passions and inspirations in life, I will feel like I have succeeded. I will continue to do what I want with my life, and what makes me happy.

Also, check out the video below for a funny video of Sisyphus.


  1. Right, you don't want to be that guy. One of the advantages of youth is that you still have time to dodge the rock.

    And yet, according to Camus, even if you did become that guy you could still find something to live and work for. "One must imagine Sisyphus happy."* But why? Maybe you can take a shot at explaining that in your next installment.


  2. The story of Sisyphus has been one of my favorites as well. I remember droning through high school thinking that my life was doomed to be just like his. It wasn't until after I read Camus' Myth of Sisyphus that I found that having no meaning was a sort of freedom. Today I still consider myself an absurdist in the tradition of Camus simply because I find his view both logical and liberating.