Thursday, September 16, 2010

You're Such a Sisyphus

Some days everything comes to a screeching halt and I wonder, “What am I doing? This is so not what I need.” I have no idea what I need. Well, “no idea” is perhaps too strong. I know that I need some sort of change. I need some sort of change yet I don’t have the energy to make one. I don’t know what change to make, exactly. There is a disconnect between my heart and my work that I put up with for various reasons, good reasons. I’m more real here than in the real world, where I play dress-up.

Dear Husband sometimes hints that I should find a way to make a living writing. Only thing is, I don’t enjoy the sorts of careers that writers have. I don’t want to be a journalist or a novel writer or write marketing copy or greeting cards. I don’t want to start showing up at open mikes or writers groups. I suppose if I had lived in a previous century, I would have been an epistolary writer, one of those correspondents who wrote amusing and interesting letters to entertain friends. Ephemeral, or by some trick of fate bound and preserved for dusty researches. Blogging seems to be an open letter to whomever happens by. You know, Emily Dickenson would have made an excellent blogger. She could have stayed holed up in her Amherst home and written oddly punctuated posts.

I can’t help but think that somehow I missed the point, that I failed in dedication to the craft, that I lacked nerve, though I have thought that my nerve would not have failed had I known in what direction to point myself. We all need a foundation of meaning to support our actions. I’ve always been amazed at and envious of people who had goals and plans and were able to embrace them as if they mattered. I say “as if” because my perception is always undergirded with a profound sense of futility. I am aware of it even in moments of happiness. I live “as if” – as if there were some reason we are born and die, some purpose to raising a family, some purpose to all the many pleasures we pursue. Some people turn to God for meaning. Our purpose is to glorify God. That just baffles me. Why would there be a God whose be-all and end-all was to be glorified? That sounds so profoundly anemic I can’t wrap my head around it. Why on earth would that be a satisfying endeavor?

I am not alone, of course. On the other hand, I know many people who have never experienced this. They’ve known deep despair and grief, sure, but not this . . . blankness.

I feel a great kinship with the writer of Ecclesiastes, up until he starts prattling on about serving God, which sounds as half-hearted and joyless as his lines of existential despair. There you are, then; we either keep muddling along or we kill ourselves. I’ve known people who chose the latter. But I like this world, I like all the beauty of the earth and other people, and it would take a huge blow to make me consider leaving early.

I have the existentialist belief that we create meaning in the face of chaos. I’m not very good at it. It’s just so exhausting. Camus was so spot on. Everyday – actually, moment by moment – I’m rolling a rock up a hill. Then it rolls back down and I start over. The existentialists thought that was sort of heroic, maybe because they were all crazy Frenchmen. They get drunk on ideas, even the depressing ones.


  1. I think most scholars now think the boring bits were tacked onto Ecclesiastes in some attempt to "salvage" it. A pity, really.

    As for the blog post in general: yup.

  2. A thought provoking post. You know people with goals can sometimes become so didillusioned when these goals are not fulfilled.