After a long and seemingly unproductive week, I was having lunch with an American friend I recently made on the island. He patiently listened while I was explaining the obstacles I am required to consistently overcome in order to succeed in a foreign country. Then, my wise new mentor introduced me to Sisyphus.
Many centuries ago, the Greek gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain until the stone would fall back to the bottom of its own weight. Seems the immortals had determined with some well thought reason that there is no more dreadful punishment in life than pointless and fruitless labor. Personally, I believe they were absolutely right.
One day, Sisyphus was hauled down to Hades, where his indiscretions finally caught up with him. For crimes against the gods, the specifics of which were widely reported by Homer and others, he was condemned to an eternity at hard labor. He was assigned the most frustrating labor of all. For his penitence was to roll that great boulder to the top of a hill. However, every time Sisyphus, by the greatest of effort, attained the summit, the darn thing just rolled back down again.
Regardless of profession, we all have days that much too closely resemble Sisyphus’ plight. We plan and push and pray ourselves to the very edge of what appears to be the goal we have set to accomplish, only to within moments find ourselves again at the bottom of the hill, watching that boulder celebrate its victory.
Life consists of experiences, challenges and achievements and all are building blocks that inherently create a path to success. Upon my arrival on Grand Cayman, I could only imagine the journey this experience would provide.
I was given a surplus of advice from my employer, family and friends. I soon found that the transition to meet the cultural differences and adapt socially was not as difficult as I imagined. Although this was the first time I have ever left my beloved country, I knew that no matter what trials I might face in the months and years to come I would persevere. Knowing my inherent desire to succeed, failure will never be an option.
On the surface, renovating and rebranding a Caribbean resort would not appear to be too much different than a similar assignment in the U.S. But without a doubt it is. Because everything, including skilled labor must be imported and even the most common components of the process take twice as long and costs at least a third more to accomplish.
If the myth Sisyphus appears tragic, that is because its hero is aware. Where would his torture be, if with every step, the hope of succeeding sustained him? Today, we work every day of our life at basically the same tasks and our fate is actually no less absurd than his.
It is tragic that only after the darkest moments it becomes conscious to us that we are wasting good days after bad. Sisyphus, though powerless remained rebellious. For, he understood that what was to constitute his torture at the same time awarded his victory. As there is no fate that cannot be surmounted by the scorn of the obstacle and defeat was ultimately a choice he was unwilling to make.
Life is never in short supply of burdens. Yet, Sisyphus teaches the higher commitment that disregards the obstacles and continues to raise the rock. The conclusion of the parable of Sisyphus is that the struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart.
We are all in some way pushing that rock up our own special hill and sometimes our days may seem to be hardly more than entertainment for the angels. However, as for me, I plan to put on a good show.
Henry Piarrot is a Sevier County resident managing The Grand Caymanian Resort on Grand Cayman Island. Please send all story recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org