31 DoB: 4. We Are Sisyphus

***In this post I’m taking inspiration from the words of Jocko Willink from his Jocko Podcast Episode 22 for this one, his podcast/works/life is pretty badass, but this was one of those moments I found myself nodding along and thinking “YES. THIS.” while he was talking about it. I highly recommend checking him out.***

“If I ever got the rock to the top of the mountain and it stayed there… I’d push it back down myself” - Jocko Willink

In Greek mythology, the gods love their punishments.

One such punishment was for King Sisyphus - who totally deserved it according to the ancient Greek grapevine, but still sounds rough.

Amongst other things, for manipulating his way out of things and thinking he was cleverer than the gods they chucked him to the bottom of a mountain in the Underworld along with a rock. This rock could be moved and pushed around, but had been enchanted to roll back down the mountain if he ever got it near the top.


This was to go on indefinitely, past the end of time.

Same rock, same mountain, over and over.

Super bummer.

Feels kinda relatable though. How many times have you gone through the motions over and over and over?

Jobs, workouts, studying, there’s a fair bit of monotony to be had. Turn up, do the do, repeat until the end of time. Sometimes there’s a goal attached (the top of the mountain), sometimes it’s obscured by clouds - and you’re just winging it and hoping you’re on the path to somewhere.

Wake up, push rock, realise you’ve not reached the top today, sleep and repeat.

Or, if you’re Sisyphus, get near the top and have it roll away from you, no matter what you do.  

While our plight might not be the daily drama that Sisyphus has, the same can happen out of the blue due to an injury, disease, and other unexpected events; sending us back to square one, tumbling back down to the bottom of the mountain.

So what’s the solution? It’s the rock.

Not you Dwayne - the rock that we’re pushing up the hill. The process.

Stop looking at the top of the mountain, and direct your eyes to what’s right in front of your face.

It’s the squats, the paperwork, the work you need to do to get to where you want to be. Pushing this rock is making you stronger, adapting your mind and body to handle the weight of the rock and the bumps in the road ahead.

The top of the mountain means nothing, once you’ve reached it where else is there to go? Yeah the view is nice, but that’s about it. It’s the journey that makes it worth it.

So instead of worrying about how far is left or how much it sucks, embrace the process. Take each step with purpose and make it count. Embrace how tough it is, and how you’re getting stronger from shoving this gravelly demon.

If you can enjoy the process, let your curiosity run wild with every mile, find joy in each bench press and wonder in each new thing you put your mind to learn about, the journey goes from “aw man, I’ve got so far to go with this dumb rock,” to “I’m killing it, look at these sick quads from all this extra pushing.”.

This turns the monotony into a journey. Grey weeks at work to little daily adventures. Each squat an opportunity to get better and stronger. Each moment becomes something more than a fleeting second of the clock.

What if you get knocked back to the bottom? It’ll suck, at first, but if you’ve found an appreciation and enjoyment for the process, then that’s all you need to focus on. Just enjoy and put work into what you’re doing, and the progress will follow - even if there are dips and bumps along the way, just keeping putting one foot in front of the other.

Looking at it in a positive way, you get a whole new chance to do it better, approach it differently, take new steps and discover movement anew.

What if you reach your goal? What happens when you reach the top of the mountain?

Push that sucker back down yourself, and get after a new mountain.