I’ve been told I’m resilient. I’ve been through a lot. I’ve developed coping mechanisms to help me through. These are things I must do the same way, each and every day; as I’ve said before, being autistic is a second full-time job. I gain comfort from sameness. I guess it is no surprise I can relate to Sisyphus.
In general, I relate to rebels, underdogs and outsiders; they struggle and suffer, yet find the will to continue, despite it all. Sisyphus is a prime example. The following video reignited my interest in his plight.
I think the video pretty much sums up how I view existence. I see a lot of repetition in life. Sometimes this irks me, but at the same time I can be perfectly content with predictability – a double edged sword, if you will. Sisyphus’s acceptance of his hamster-wheel existence, in order to free his mind, rings true. Maybe the late great Mark E. Smith, speaking about The Fall’s music, put it best: “It’s not repetition, it’s discipline.”
Camus connected Sisyphus with absurdism. Absurdism is an important part of my philosophical foundation. This foundation helps me cope. Upon it, I build thought structures to help me communicate. It gives me a context – a frame of reference. It makes me feel comfortable – not alone in my suffering. It calms me. Sometimes, I push my frame of reference too far.
Struggling to relate to, and understand, others (including groups of people), I desperately try to fit them into my scheme of things. I figure they share my foundation. I extrapolate. I have to be very careful not to do this; sometimes I am wrong – way off base. I don’t like making mistakes. I am very hard on myself. But my intentions are good. I hope others see that. I recently reached out to someone, to see if they had the same passion for Sisyphus as myself, with mixed results.
In many ways, I can relate to this person. His personal journey, his trials and tribulations, are similar to mine – as an autistic adult. I thought he’d really connect with this video. I asked him if he was into absurdist philosophy, like I am. His response was interesting, and somewhat surprising.
He turns to his Christian faith to help him cope. As such, absurdism is not a good philosophical basis for him (absurdism and Christianity, like oil and water, need a good shake). However, he did like the story of Sisyphus and could see some similarities to his own journey. His enthusiasm just wasn’t as deep as mine. Me – I’m not religious at all. There was a time I considered myself agnostic, borderline atheist.
So, while our journeys were difficult, and we surmounted obstacles time and time again, we both have truly unique foundations to build upon. I was a bit disappointed, but quickly realized: to each their own! I also realized how easily I can become overly enthusiastic about something to the point I think it surely must have significant meaning for others. Usually not! Even at my age, I am still coping with this seemingly obvious problem. Such is life on the spectrum.
I definitely learned from this chat. Despite how well thought out my arguments can be, and having the best intentions, I can get it wrong. This happens a lot. But I do have to put it out there, to ask the questions. I am innately curious and, as I have mentioned before, mistakes are inevitable but necessary – not malicious. I plan on asking him more questions about his life – how he copes. Do I ask too many questions? Because of my autism, I completely missed all of the cues when he was young; I did not recognize his struggle. This deeply embarrasses me, but it can’t be helped. All I can do is be as supportive as I possibly can be. Like Sisyphus, we all have our rock to push (there I go again – extrapolating!). I have one pure, simple goal: if I can reduce my suffering, then I hope I can help others do the same.
“sisyphus-tee-wht” by fouro is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0