“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.”– Albert Camus, The myth of Sisyphus
Followers of my writing know that I depart from topics that I take up only to return to them eventually down the track somewhere at sometime. Many reasons I suppose for this behaviour. First amd foremost I am a writer that enjoys many topics and I am fascinated by many things. But the one thing that acts as a tree trunk for all the meandering concepts, stories, advice and rants is philosophy, and how we can take the deep thoughts, meditations and questions from dead and alive men and women and apply them to our lives.
An absolutely beautiful guidline of philosophy is it rarely ever has a set interpretation, rather it offers a new way to think about ideas or problems or indeed yourself. And that’s where we come to Sisyphus.
The long and short of the ancient myth is that Sisyphus was a great king who was hated by the gods. They had sent their version of death to claim his sole many times but each time he outsmarted them. Finally, finally hades hatched a plan to put a large boulder at the bottom of a long slope in a cave, at the top of the slope was a hole that lead to the outside world. Hades and death brought Sisyphus down here and told him “we are sick of this game we play, we only have one final test for you. Roll this boulder up to the top, then you you will claim immortality, but once you start, you cannot stop till you reach the top”
Sisyphus was bold and had already outsmarted the gods and death itself numerous times, so he flicked back his golden hair and placed his hands on the boulder. It was heavy but he could roll it slowly, and by the time he got to the tope he had expended all his strength. But then the boulder jumped out of his hands and rolled back down to the start. Hades had cursed the boulder to never reach the top, effectively trading Sisyphus in this constant pushing then walking back down and pushing for all of eternity.
How do we apply this to our lives? Well let’s look at his task. An unlikeable one to be sure. He could wallow amd lament. He could thrash his feet and cures the heavens. Or he could spite the gods that cursed him. If we imagine Sisyphus setting about his task with a broad grin, laughing as the boulder rolls to the bottom, then he hasn’t lost. He is the king of his own environment. Completely in charge of how he views his reality and not tossed about carelessly by forces beyond his control. And by reframing his outlook. His life will forever be positive.
If you enjoyed this please share and tell me what you think. I would love to delve more into philosophy at some point. Also follow my new writing instagram, – kj_thewriter
“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”
– Albert Camus
we have so many reasons to stop. modern life allows us endless comforts and distractions. the mind numbing insanity of tiktok, the dopamine dumpster fire that is Instagram, and all the really petty and inane things that we say prevent us from doing any real self work. we try to hide away from that image in the mirror and no I’m not just talking about physical appearance. our mental health and clarity, our social health and our spiritual health. we tell ourselves that these little distractions are fine because the everybody else is doing it and worse we can find subgroups in these places, most notably that trash heap Tiktok, that re-enforce our little comfort bubble and stop us from achieving any meaningful change. here’s a little true tale. I recently broke my foot, it has come at a time though when I needed to take a break, from work and everything else, yet my mind and body is restless, I need that exertion that comes from discomfort that I cant seek now cause I need to heal (although I’m still getting my ass into the gym, I still got one working foot and an upper body) anyway at dinner I over hear two young people, a girl and a boy, both early twenties. the girl is drawing some impressive anomie style faces on a piece of paper, the boy says to her “wow you are really great at that” to which the girl replies “yeah, i wanted to do it for a job or something but I never took the time to get better at drawing the bodies, and I would get disheartened when I messed it up so I didn’t practice” the boy says “yeah sometimes its better to not try” then the girl smiles and laughs a shy little laugh “yeah I agree, its easier not to”. I nearly fell of my chair and broke my other foot. imagine living life in the margin, no reaching up into anything to try and make yourself better, to walk into the same job day in and day out, eat the same food, talk to the same people, your not living, you are in fucking jail. now people will tell me “I have commitments, I need the money, I need the security” I’m wont be gentle here, YOU WILL DIE DISAPOINTED. burn your bridges and learn to swim, learn a new skill and push against the odds. hard times make strong people that learn the ability to overcome and adapt, adopt the warriors attitude regardless of your situation and fight on. you will attract some like minded people trust me, they will help you.
we are living in the generation of the apathetic, climate change and global instability is hurting everyone, but if we strive harder and search for a deeper meaning we can astound ourselves. together we can find a way to the light but first you need to look up from the mess you have allowed to build around you, thrash, rage against your circumstances and be the person you want to be. you don’t need god, or a self help book, you need to get off your ass and fight uphill.
this list will get you started
50 push ups.
pick up something heavy and go for a 20 minuet walk
learn something new, about anything
meet someone new, just introduce yourself to them on the street.
its that easy, don’t complain just do it. you will thank me later.
there are secrets now? did you know?
all these instagram and other social media types (in a way this is going to pang of hypocrasy) telling you to do this and not do that. telling you they have the secrets and what not.
there are no secrets. what works for one person (that is preforming the exercise with good lighting, full make up and and a pump) probably isn’t going to work for everyone. there is though the mainstays.
all these squat pulses, leg raises, plate presses, arnie presses, and a myriad of others are rickety houses. they offer minimal shelter and can yes make you feel something but that doesn’t always indicate that you are getting benefit. the foundation that these houses are built on on though are strong as the mountains that their builders aimed to climb. i am speaking of course of the mainstays, the squat, the vertical and horizontal press (bench press, shoulder press) . it maybe sound like a massive generalisation but it is pretty correct, the main lifts will work and benefit for everyone. the reason is simple, they mimic natural human movements. doing these weird cable and alternate exercises may give you a 20% muscle increase for your time but for real bang for your buck stick with the tried and tested lifts, if you want to really up the ante pick up something heavy and walk with it for a while, watch your durability go up.
they are not fancy, they don’t always look good on camera. but they are a stable foundation to build your strong house of physical fitness, one that will outlast your rickety neighbours and give you shelter whilst you train in front of your own mountains that you will one day conquer
If you like this let me know with a comment, and share with your friends. lets get stronger together
So. You are injured. Or you have no time. Or you are somewhere that stops you from training physically in some way.
What do you do?
Get mad, frustrated, these are the things I used to do when I couldn’t get my physical training sessions in. It took me a long time to realise that what I was doing was hiding behind the physical distraction of training to make somthing better in my life (relationships, work stress, mental health issues) this isn’t to say that I didn’t love training because it’s one of the pillars that hold my life up. But it was the only pillar back then.
This is when I found I could plumb the depths of my mind, I started small by asking myself why I missed training so much, why did it mean so much, what would I do if I could never train again.
This not only got my mind working but also introduced me to my first concepts of philosophy. I was having a Socratic dialogue with myself. I didn’t appreciate this moment for a long while but it laid the path for me to philosophy which in turn laid the way to art and creation and building multipul pillars to hold my life up.
So what can you do?
Start a Socratic dialogue yourself, with yourself. Be terrifying with it. Don’t hide from questions, ask deeply and truly even when it hurts. Pull back what feels safe and what you know people see you as, why are you doing xyz? Our old friend Socrates didn’t do these things to others (most notably his friends in Plato’s discourses) to hurt or humiliate or seem like he knew better because he didn’t, he just wanted to get to the raw truth that he knew would help. He saw on the battlefield (not many know but he was a extremely competent warrior) that truth in one’s morals and ability will always bring saftey. It’s why he questiond the state that lauded praise on him initially then sentenced him to death by suicide which he gladly did to prove that he would never give in to another’s false ethics.
So start questioning.
See where it gets you.
“Ships are safe in harbour….but that is not what Ships are for” – some guy I met in a Pakistani tea house 2014
How many of you haven’t changed or updated your program in 4 weeks? 6 weeks? 10 weeks? Ever?
Consistency is key in training but there is a time when Consistency turns to ground hog day. We can get comfortable in our standard excersises and we get great at them but we need to understand that if we are to grow, if indeed we are to sail to new lands we must leave the saftey of the harbour. Search out someone that can teach you a new movment, learn pilaties, pick up a heavy kettle bell and go for a 1 mile walk.
Comfort is for the weak. Competencey can sometimes mean stagnation. Grow. Fight . Pick up something new, suck at it, get good at it, find something else.