Life is Sisyphean.
Sisyphus was the poor schmuck from mythology who was damned to push a boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down again… endlessly. So why would anyone want Sisyphus as their role model?
A better question might be “Is Sisyphus’ fate really that foreign to all of us?”
Don’t we get up in the morning only to face our own boulders that we need to push up the hill? And aren’t those same boulders there again tomorrow?
Training, or exercise, is certainly Sisyphean. We go to the gym, or out for a run, and while we (hopefully) feel great afterward, it is a process that has to be done again and again to keep your fitness or strength. You roll the boulder up, and tomorrow you have to do it again.
In the myth, this ceaselessly rolling the boulder up the hill was considered a fate worse than death. But in reality, it is most of life. So we must find meaning in the act, purpose in the process.
We often focus, especially as athletes, on goals and outcomes, like getting the boulder to the top of the hill. But life, and sport, is about the process. We must find passion in the process, in bringing mindfulness to the task at hand, whatever that may be.
Albert Camus wrote a well known essay called The Myth of Sisyphus, in which he concluded, “The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” I agree. But there’s more than that.
I have made a specialty of sleds, and I can tell you that doing intervals pushing a boulder up a hill on a regular basis would make you incredibly strong and fit. Sisyphus was really the first adopter – willingly or not – of the FHITr protocol.
So not only must we imagine Sisyphus happy (just think of all dopamine), but also a paragon of functional strength and fitness.
Who wouldn’t want that as a role-model?