MYTH OF SISYPHUS
Day 118 Vincennes to Washington
today: 22 cumulative: 2,419
Today I am a glorified homeless man. I am woken up by the park maintenance people, better be moving along, the same line I always get. Where to? To eat, to wait for the sun to set, wait to walk all night in the dark. Walk to a library, maybe I will talk to some students, and read about Sisyphus.
The gods condemned Sisyphus to endlessly roll a large stone to the top of a mountain, and having reached the top, there would be no place to rest the stone and it would roll back down. The gods believed that there would be no worse punishment than hopeless labor. I personally believe that one day there will be built a place for Sisyphus to rest that great stone, and the cycle will be broken. I have to believe it, because I roll that same stone. Reading the story of Sisyphus made me cry today, not a visible tear, but the choke of emotion that could be crying, for sadness and joy together, I cry because I understand, I cry because I am Sisyphus. Because I believe that he is stronger than the gods know, because they cannot stop him from his thoughts as he steps his way back to the bottom of the mountain, no matter what hell they send him to, he is free so long as he is conscious.
And that is it. That is what I am trying to say, that the man who is conscious is free. No matter that the stone rolls back down. So many are not conscious. Yes, better to roll a great stone for eternity and have ones own thoughts on the walk back down the mountain.
Albert Camus wrote, in reference to the absurd hero (specifically Sisyphus),
"Happiness and the absurd are two sons of the same earth. They are inseparable. Despite so many ordeals, my advanced age and the nobility of my soul make me conclude that all is well.(In that statement) Sophocles Oedipus gives the recipe for the absurd victory. It teaches that all is not, has not been, exhausted. It drives out of this world a god who had come into it with dissatisfaction and a preference for futile suffering. It makes of fate a human matter, which must be settled among men. The absurd man, when he contemplates his torment, silences the idols. In the universe suddenly restored to its silence, the myriad wondering little voices of the earth rise up. Unconscious, secret calls, invitations from all the faces, they are the necessary reverse and price of victory. There is no sun without shadow, and it is essential to know the night. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a mans heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy."
So I contemplate the absurd hero. And I look for pictures of Shiva in the library. And I make a phone call.
My dog cart was stolen in Oklahoma by a drunk frat boy. It was returned but missing a bag with $1,500 in supplies and gear inside. I though we could work this out without the police being involved.
Today I called the Norman Police, they have begun an investigation. The man who stole the dogcart is Eric Bramlett, Oklahoma University student, and resident of Tulsa.
Outside the library in Vincennes a Japanese student takes my photograph. Today is his first day as a student here, he just flew in from Tokyo today. I invite him to eat with me. I would like a perspective on the U.S. from outside. Mexican food and Mexican beer. Chips and salsa. Ill have the chicken Chimichanga with a side of sour cream please. His name is Yoshiyuki. He thinks Americans should learn Japanese before they visit Japan.
"I think Americans are a little bit arrogant. But you guys, Americans, dont think so. But we, another people, think you are arrogant. Always you guys are on top, you always have enemies. You are too big. (in terms of empire) You always fight back. You cant be bystanders. Why you Americans you have to be World Police? And you have no nutrition in your foods." I would add that we are also fat.
My responses: Yes, we are too big. We have to be the world police because we want to control the world economy. Arrogance gets things done and done fast, but those things will not last. We are not patient. No empire has lasted. We are no exception to the rule.
Sun setting walk out of Vincennes. I am in Indiana now. Playing Solid Gold. Cars drive by and wave. We are walking at a ridiculously fast pace to begin this night. Wide smooth shoulders. Like gliding. A white van pulls up and hands me a brown paper bag. Inside are 4 hamburgers: 2 for me and 2 for Cosmo, and a large coffee. They drove all the way back into town to get this after seeing me a half hour ago on their way home. Cars are coming they cant stay. Good luck they say. Someone always comes to my rescue.
Why walk? Because it makes me feel like a giant. Tonight I am a giant.
Then a tired giant. Then an insane normal sized man. Then a drunken staggering normal sized man. The shoulders stay wide but now they have large ribs of concrete every 15 paces to wake up sleeping drivers. I trip on them, they are hard to pull the cart over. These little things can make the night very long. The halfway town has no place to stop. I am desperate for a place to lie down, but I am not seeing any. I am still walking
and a gas station, the road into Washington, a field to the right. Under a tree I lay my sleeping bag on top of a tarp, I am too tired to set up a tent. From the time I set down the cart to the time I am in my sleeping bag is less than a minute. I just want to be asleep and off my feet. I sleep with my dirty clothes on because I expect to be woken up by the police. I hate sleeping with dirty clothes on. It always feels like I havent slept when I do. Restless. Wake to cold feet in the night. 35 degrees. Too tired to set up a tent. Tired like I have been walking for 119 days.
Semis filled with coal drive by. The grass is wet. It is 4 am. Sisyphus falls asleep.