Sisyphus and Happiness

April 2016
February Fortescue (Slytherin)

Crash. Larkin ran into the kitchen and threw her books down on the table. “Mom, I'm off to my room. Don't bother me!”

“You wait right there, young lady!” her mom replied. “For the last several weeks, I've tried to be understanding. I know you're under a lot of stress right now, but if you don't unwind, you're going to collapse.”

“I can't handle all of this!” Larkin sobbed. “If I don't do that Scorpion cheerleading move perfectly, we may not win at Nationals! Prom is in five weeks, and I still haven't lost those seven pounds! Remember, I had lost two, but then I went on that date with Todd, and he wanted me to eat ice cream, and no way was I going to say no in front of him! I have yet to finish my stupid mythology paper for English class. I choose a myth, start, can't think of anything to write, and have to start all over again. So far, I have a B in chemistry! I studied for that exam, but all this stress gave me a huge headache, and I missed an easy question and got a B on the exam, so I still have a B! I keep trying harder and harder and harder, but everything keeps falling apart. I feel as if I have to start all over again. And again. And again.”

“Ok, Larkin, I get the picture. Take a deep breath and calm down. There you go. Honey, I have a secret to tell you. It's a very special secret, one that very few people figure out until it's too late. Are you ready? Larkin Fortescue, this is life. Goals are wonderful, and you should always have something to strive for, but life itself is made up in the day-to-day effort of reaching them. The joy of reaching that goal only lasts for a flicker, but your life will be used up on working towards those goals. For example, that Scorpion cheerleading move. The big question is, how do you feel about cheerleading? Is this something you want to spend hours of your time on? If it is, then when you are cheering, focus 100% on cheering and enjoying that moment, and nothing else. Losing seven pounds? Why is this goal worth it to you? Is it important enough for it to rule your world? Chemistry? How do you feel about the subject? Why do you feel you must receive an A instead of a B? If you believe your reasons are valid, then when you study chemistry, practice focusing on chemistry 100%. Don't even think about your grade or the end result. And don't let it become an obsession. Give it a place in your life, but only a place. Do you understand what I'm saying?”

“I think so, mom,” Larkin replied through her tears.

“Oh, yes, about that mythology paper. Remember Sisyphus? He was condemned to roll a stone up a hill, only to have it roll back down, and then to have to roll it back up and then watch it roll back down, for all eternity. Sound familiar? I've always thought Sisyphus represents all of us. But you know what? He's also the only one in all of mythology who has a chance at pure happiness. Once he masters focusing totally on the task at hand, he can't help but feel joy. Joy is only found in the present, Larkin. Never in the past. Never in the future. Only in the now."