One of the most cunning and deceitful characters in all of Greek Mythology was Sisyphus, the first king of Corinth. His body of work consisted of deceiving Tyros, Thanatos, Ares, Persephone, Hades and eventually Zeus … which, as you can imagine, wasn’t the smartest move.
As Zeus began to manufacture what eternal punishment may befit the preposterous hubris of Sisyphus, he decided that the finality of excruciating death would be far too limiting, and that the austerity of immutable torture would be far too prescribed.
So instead, to punish the one asshole in history with the gall to make an utter and unmitigated mockery of the gods, Zeus handcrafted a new breed of chastisement.
King Sisyphus would be made to roll a huge boulder up a steep hill, but before he could reach the top, the massive stone would always roll back down, forcing him to begin the process once again. The maddening and absurd nature of the punishment consigned Sisyphus to an eternity of useless efforts and unending frustration.
To this day, in academic circles, pointless or interminable activities are at many times described as Sisyphean.
One of the largest companies in mainland China is a not-so-well known purveyor of human labor called Foxconn Technology Group. Foxconn has built a multi-billion dollar business by extracting cheap labor from remote Chinese villages with the promise of a better life and a ticket to the show of modern capitalism.
A few months ago a reporter from The Economist was touring one of the Foxconn plants and noticed a large net-like canopy underneath the taller buildings around the campus. When he asked his official tour guides what they were used for, they shirked and kept shuffling him around. Finally, one of the thousands of nameless factory workers living at the Foxconn compound took him aside and answered … “those are the suicide nets.” They prevent people from jumping out of windows when the monotony of the day gets to them.
Five years ago, I abruptly evacuated an unremarkably average life in the pursuit of living a life of meaning and adventure and purpose. And on that day, I remember envisioning myself 40 years hence, and looking back at myself at that moment, mourning the glory of a life that could have been.
A life of adventure.
A life of unpredictable outcomes.
A life whose ending could not be so easily prophesied.
A life that was entirely mine.
When the gods took the time to construct their most severe and heinous punishment, it didn’t include death or destruction or plague … it was simply imbuing the hopeless recognition of an idle and stationary existence.
You were not meant to live an inanimate life.
You are the protagonist. This life is your novel. And it is your one and only.
And today is a brand new page.
So, what’s next?
Your Fellow Misfit,
Ps – I am so sorry for not writing for the past couple weeks. Between attempting to complete the book, planning an international summer tour, shipping the print version of the magazine, traveling a gazillion miles, leading three projects at Misfit Creative, launching a project to build a windmill in Kenya and producing this conference in Fargo … I’ve been a little busy. But I’m back now. And I’m so glad you’re here. See you on Friday.
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