Parallel going up a ski lift and coming back down to myth of Sisyphus

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During my life I have been searching for what I would want to study at the university, and it was not easy because of the variety of disciplines that exist. That is why deciding what I am going to do for the rest of my life needed upmost thoroughness and attention. I have come to an understanding that personal qualities are the key to my search. Thus, I made my choice to study philosophy as a fundamental teaching of knowledge. Philosophical attitude to life is not something that I am passionate about, rather it is the way I live. I tend to think about my own ideas and experiences in philosophical terms. Philosophy has always been a hallmark for different cultures all over the world. It reflects the ideas and values of the society it belongs to. Moreover, it gives a profound understanding of people’s desires and fears they themselves might not be aware of. That is why it is hard to imagine Greece without its famous philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates; Germany without Nietzsche, Jaspers, and Marx; or America without Edwards, Jefferson, Searle among many others.

To show the integration of philosophy into my life, I chose to tell you about one of my hobbies. I like skiing and I go skiing every year at winter. One day when I was on a ski lift, it struck me that the whole process of going up to the top of a slope just to ski back to the bottom again is an absurd. It has no purpose in itself as there is no movement to an initial goal and no result. At the end of the day, I am at the same point where I was when I started. This insight made me think of a myth about Sisyphus. Sisyphus was punished by the gods because he wanted to escape the underworld (death itself) and live forever on earth.  For that, he rolls a huge stone up the slope only for it to fall back down to the bottom of the slope. Then Sisyphus starts all over again. In the modern world, Sisyphus became the metaphor of futile labor. To me, skiing is very similar to Sisyphus’ work, since skiers go up by ski lift only to go back down again, start all over again, and nothing is ever accomplished by these actions.

An interesting analysis of Sisyphus myth was given by Albert Camus. He suggests that Sisyphus’ labor is the metaphor of life itself. Life is absurd and there is no point in trying to solve this issue. On the contrary, we should embrace it as Sisyphus faces hopelessness when he goes back down to his stone from the top of the slope. For Camus, this is the moment of consciousness when Sisyphus does not hold any illusions and sees the life as it is. This state of mind makes him overcome his fate, as his strength is the realization of the futileness of his efforts. Today one may work every day, holding a hope to achieve something significant that will never follow in reality. Their lives are seen as absurd by Camus, but they are devoid of disappointment and happy to do their work. Hence, absurd and happiness rise form the same cause. Absence of hope is the only thing which distinguishes absurd from happiness.

The time when Sisyphus goes down to his rock is when he is free from his burden. As Sisyphus knows his fate and contemplates his tortures, he becomes the master of it. This state of consciousness also frees him from the earthly passions for which he was punished by gods and makes him understand that all unrelated events and decision in his life led to this moment. By the time Sisyphus comes to his rock, he understands that life is a circle rather than a linear process. One must find his burden again. Facing this absurd is not what makes us hopeless but, on the contrary, allows us to live to the fullest. Only when we realize the absurdness of life and the futility of our efforts, we can truly reach happiness.

Many analogies can be found between ancient myths and our lives. It is important to understand that they can help us to make sense of our lives and find the purpose in it. That is why I want to study philosophy. Sisyphus’ labor is one of the myths that taught me: everything in life should be accepted, whether it is happiness or sorrow. Life is not one-sided, it has many aspects, and only by going through both sorrow and joys can one truly understand themselves. As Sisyphus’ choice is to roll the stone up knowing that it will fall back again, I also choose to go up on a ski lift. Because when I ski down the slope, I am the most conscious of my life and the decisions that led to this moment. At this moment I am also free from my passions that often cloud my judgment. As well as Sisyphus when he goes down to his rock, at this moment I am happy.

July 19, 2022



Greek Mythology Books

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