This post was written in response to Chari Mills Carrot Ranch weekly 99-word fiction challenge
January 19, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a about a quarry. It can be a place or include the by-product. The quarry can be operational, abandoned, it can be in real-tie or mentioned from another time. Where will the quarry take you? Go where the prompt leads.
Strike at the Quarry
‘Look at him, the great Sisyphus. Ever wondered where his rocks come from?’
‘Rocks? There’s only one.’
‘One, for all eternity? They get worn down in no time, and he’s got an army to roll ‘em up for him.’
‘Do you know who does all the work?’ He asked pointing a finger at the pickets.
‘We dug those rocks out of the quarry, carried them for bloody miles, and pushed them up, but he gets all the praise.’
‘What a nerve!’
‘We’re going on strike. No more exploitation of the working classes. Get your own rocks, Sisyphus!’
I’ve gone all the way back in time to Greek mythology for my inspiration this time.
The myth of Sisyphus, the mortal King of Corinth who was punished by the Gods to carry the same rock up and down a hill for all eternity, has always fascinated me.
Then the great Albert Camus tried to convince me that Sisyphus was happy, because he had accepted his lot. Rebellion leads to unhappiness. Accept that life is harsh and absurd and you’ll be all right. A shocking suggestion for a nonconformist optimist like me, and yet the concept fascinates me because it’s what so many people do without questioning.
Am I doing what I want to do?
Is this the life I want for myself?
If your answer is no, you need to answer so many more questions you may never find the answer to, such as what are the alternatives? How can I achieve them? What if I fail? Will I ever be happy or satisfied? Will I be worse off in the end if I don’t accept my lot? etc.
According to Camus, questioning the harshness and absurdity of life will only lead to greater unhappiness.
However, if your answer is yes, I’ll do as I’m told, your problem is solved. Just get on with pushing the rock up every time it goes down. Don’t think, don’t complain, just do it. Obey.
I’ve discovered my own answer.
I’m not following anyone’s rules.
I’m terribly disobedient, disrespectful, and challenging.
I’m not interested in doing what I’m told or even explicitly searching for happiness.
I want to experience life as an ongoing process, a journey which ends in death, and may or may not continue on to other unknown destinations.
And while I’m here, I can’t stop asking: what if?
What if Sisyphus wasn’t punished at all?
What if he craved glory?
What if he needed to be praised and loves carrying the rocks up the hill?
What if he loved showing off his muscles and his strength?
What if others were envious of him and his fame?
What if he got others to do his dirty work?