In Greek myth, Sisyphus was condemned to roll a large stone up a hill, perpetually. As soon as it reached the top the stone fell down and he had to start all over again. We know how he feels. We’ve been moving snow and then moving it again an hour later from the same place all morning. We’re condemned to be doing this for the next 24 hours, by the look of the latest forecast.
This is activity without results, like running on the spot. It takes all our energy to stay in the same place.
Camus famously argued that we should think of Sisyphus as happy. Sisyphus understood that the point was just to ‘be’, not to get anywhere, or achieve anything.
While moving our stone we have time to observe the world around. A hare on a pile of snow with beady black eyes, looks at me, unblinkingly. Perhaps I am shovelling to reveal some soft juicy hay? A flock of crows circle overhead, their dark shapes form patterns in the sky, black arrows and white specks of snow assemble like pieces in a giant mosaic. Birds gathering to eat the very last of the vegetation on top of tall trees. This season, mid-November, has the feel of hard times ahead.
All twigs on the trees are white and snow gathers along our window ledges and along the veranda outside the front door, sealing us in, wrapping us up. Daylight is leaving us at a rapid rate and will disappear altogether in two weeks’ time. There’s a rhythm to the time of year, it feels like sliding down chute at an accelerating speed. All we can do is abandon ourselves to the feeling; resistance is pointless. Actually, as the time of midwinter approaches it isn’t at all hard to think of ourselves as happy.