The Indignity of Being Alive

I don’t know if you were ever as entranced by Greek mythology as I was circa 1992, bored out of my mind, waiting for my braces to come off, and for the torture of junior high to be over. School did indeed end eventually, but the strangeness and complete draw of Greek myths and Edith Hamilton’s careful translations stayed with me.

One that I think about often is the story of Tantalus, ancient king of Sisyphus, son of Pluto the water nymph and Zeus, damned for eternity with a great thirst, submerged up to his chin in a pool of water. The water would continue to lower just beyond his reach if he tried to bend to drink from it. I will get to his crimes in some other post.

Anyway, this is all to say how often I feel actual fury about having to deal with the basic necessities of being human. I want to do so many things, so many projects, and I just burn out. Especially in November.

November, how I hate you. Newly dark days, and for some reason it is almost always when I feel for-real existential crisis looming. I am not the only one in my house feeling blue. My son (who I think is one of the smartest people I have ever met, but I know I am biased) was describing how he was feeling tired, maybe like how sharks have to keep swimming all the time even when they are asleep or they will sink. I have no wisdom to share with him, except agreement that yes,, being alive can be a lot of work sometimes.

I think of the last lines of this song almost every single day, sometimes several times a day, that I have loved for twenty years, and has always perfectly captured that heaviness of not yet being able to rise above, and reasons to keep swimming.

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