Sisyphus and Christmas
In his essay “The Myth Of Sisyphus” French existential philosopher and author Albert Camus relates the tale of Sisyphus who is condemned to roll a giant rock up a hill only to have it roll back down the second he succeeds. Sisyphus must then roll the rock back up AGAIN only to have the situation repeat itself eternally.
Of this situation, Camus writes “ They [the gods] had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor”.
In an odd way, I know how Sisyphus must feel, because every December I engage in a task which I cannot ever conquer: the wrapping of Christmas presents.
I suppose my utter failure to wrap even the most geometrically friendly present is a byproduct of my inability to succeed in any artistic endeavor. Indeed, I believe I drove one of my elementary school art teachers to quit and another to find solace in alcohol: there simply is no way for me to create something aesthetically appealing in a visual sense, and I knew it. As early on as third grade, I hid my art work from my parents because I KNEW it sucked and I KNEW that my parents were duty-bound to tell me it didn’t suck. I didn’t want to play the game of them having to lie to me to try to save my feelings and I CERTAINLY didn’t want them to put my abominations on the fridge thereby making a shrine to my utter ineptitude.
Yet, nearly everyone finds ways in which they can excel, and I found other arenas in which even if I wasn’t great I was at least satisfactory. Like everyone I suppose, I focused on those areas which boosted my esteem and was at peace with those in which I had no talent even if I wished I DID have it ( In addition to being unable to manipulate a pen, pencil, or brush in a manner that makes my doodles resemble anything remotely reminiscent of anything that has or will exist, I am utterly unable to wrestle a pleasant musical note out of any instrument ever made- much to my chagrin).
And, I lived in contentment UNTIL I reached an age at which I became responsible for wrapping my own gifts. I am telling you, I CANNOT do it. I have watched youtube videos, I have followed step by step in person instructions, and I have even read tedious missives on how to do it , but damn it, it simply can’t be done by these hands.
So, Sisyphus, please be aware that if the rock awaits us all, I found mine too. However, unlike you I have an option which saves me from MY misery- I throw my 16 year old twenty bucks and she does it for me.
So, perhaps the remedy for futile and hopeless labor is outsourcing.
It works for me.