Wednesday, April 23, 2008
SISYPHUS AND I
As Sisyphus would tell you, if he weren’t busy at the moment, wrestling with a rock is unlike any other activity. First of all, right up front, rocks are the most conservative entities in existence. Resistant to change of any kind, they hate to move, they are monumentally stubborn (granite, adamant etc.) and they are way more familiar with forever than we are.
As I live on a mountainside, ever since I got it into an opaque part of my mind to straighten a protrusion in the stone wall out front (thereby widening our driveway by a meter or so and easing the qualms of Echo whenever she has to back the car in), I have acquired a new sympathy for and kinship with the guy who metaphorizes the hopeless task, having now myself sought to move a giant rock on a mountainside without the aid of any power other than my own muscle, simple leverage of all kinds and my expanding array of international imprecations. But no TNT or power shovels, so the Big Sis and I are still in the same ballpark.
We mythoguys have this funny characteristic: we tackle life's series of rock-moving type jobs all powered up with internal bluster, confident in our ability to get a simple brute-force, all-muscle task done before lunch, the same characteristic that got the Big Sis to where he is today, somewhere on that slope up there. It's a powerful quality, until it leaves the rails. Thus it was that from the toolshed I selected the little handpick and the big prybar, that should do it, and went off to address the pushover.
I’ve never seen a handpick look so toylike so fast, or a heavy duty prybar bend that much. Turned out that the rock, which I've discovered is a member of the Stonehenge family, was no mere surface presence. Apart from its granitic heft, it had an iceberg quality in that so much more of it was underground than above. I had to dig to find out just how far toward New York it went.
Three noons later I'm Sisyphizing out here atop Gibraltar, surrounded by prybar, wooden timbers, a steel beam, two saws, rope, chain, the car jack, a shovel, a full-sized pick, a scythe, another empty water bottle, piles of dirt and rocks and even the comically tiny handpick way over there where I threw it, wiping away sweat, wringing out the towel and admiring the hole I’ve dug beside this distant cousin of the Washington Monument. Before too long after my nap, I’ll be able to topple this baby, maybe as much as a centimeter.
I'll get the pyramids done tomorrow, before lunch.