The sun is peaking out through some semi-dark clouds as I write to you.
I have my matcha on the ground next to me, and one of the neighborhood cats keeps peeking his head out and talking to me from behind my garden gate.
I’m feeling grounded and also a little fluttery internally. At this point, I’m unsure why, but I’m working to simply be present to what is, trusting that the meaning will come in time.
My subtle and quiet claim of full presence is what I believe the myth of Sisyphus and the theme of Fate can teach us about finding freedom from the Dominant Dogma of “I’m not where I should be.”
According to Homer, Sisyphus, the king of Cornith, was one of the wisest mortals to ever live. However, perceptions of him differed, and most recollections of his myth describe him as cunning and deceitful.
Whether wise or cunning, he often used his cleverness to commit acts of trickery and defiance against the gods believing that through his creativity, he could defy his fate and outsmart the gods.
And so today, on the Live Your Freedom Now podcast, I am exploring what it means to attempt to defy your Fate, leading to the perpetual sensation of struggle, striving, and feeling like you’re “not where you should be.”
In this episode, I explore:
- The freedom beyond the phrase, “I’m not where I should be”
- An overview and summary of the myth of Sisyphus to see how life is a journey
- The theme of Fate as your unique path as it exists in the present moment
- Why believing “I’m not where I should be” is essentially attempting to defy fate
- Claiming full presence as an act of freedom
- The role of Gods in myth as mirrors for inner conflict, emotions, and experiences
- Honoring your “inner Gods/Goddesses” to meet your present fate
- An invitation to use my new book as your practical guide to personal freedom, “Live Your Freedom Now”
- This a reminder that I have space open if you’d like to work with me deeper in a one-on-one capacity
Listen to the episode wherever you like to listen to your podcasts or watch it now on YouTube!
Watch the episode:
Hello, hello freethinker!
A couple of quick updates for you before we dive in:
- First off, a reminder that my book, Live Your Freedom Now is available for purchase at megscolleen.com. This is my #1 recommended way to continue exploring the topics that we begin exploring together here on the pod. In the book I offer short, practical stories and explorations into what freedom is and what it is not. Additionally, I walk you through the five practices of freedom to begin your personal freedom journey.
- Second, every Monday morning from 8:00-9:00am PST, I go live on the app Insight Timer pulling affirmation cards and offering journal prompts to start your week. This space has proven to be such an encouraging way to start the week and I would love to have you join!
- I am currently accepting new 1:1 coaching clients! My coaching work is carefully facilitated to help you before, during, and after seasons of overwhelm, transition, and executive function burnout so that you can rise empowered and root into freedom, no matter what lies ahead. All of my coaching is trauma-informed, neurodivergent and lgbtqia+ affirming, and rooted in the belief that you are already whole. If you are ready for support on your personal freedom journey, text or call me at 815.914.6304 or head to megscolleen.com and book a free consultation to see if I’m the right coach for you.
Ok, let’s get started.
Today, I am writing to you from my front porch. The sun is peaking out through some semi-dark clouds and I’m crossing my fingers, hoping the sun will continue to shine. I have my matcha on the ground next to me, and one of the neighborhood cats keeps peaking his head out and talking to me from behind my garden gate. I’m feeling grounded, and also a little fluttery internally. At this point I’m unsure why, but I’m working to simply be present to what is, trusting that the meaning will come in time.
Just as I am taking a moment to pause and notice my inner and outer worlds, I encourage you to do the same. Noticing the colors around you, the sounds, the textures. Then, shift your awareness inward to your inner landscape. Noticing any emotions, thoughts, or sensations you may be experiencing. Not judging or labeling anything you’re finding. Instead, simply notice, witness, and allow all parts of yourself and your experience to the table. This is a practice of personal freedom that you can utilize at any time.
Today, I am exploring the freedom beyond the phrase, “I’m not where I should be” by offering the myth of Sisyphus. Now upon writing this I have to apologize, because I realized that in my recording for the last episode I said I was going to explore the myth of King Midas, but I had altered the myth and I forgot to update my script for recording. So, no King Midas today, perhaps another time, but today we are exploring Sisyphus.
Before I even share the myth with you, I want to first offer the quote that one Youtube video shares in preparation for this myth: “Life is a journey, not a destination.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
I realize that this quote gives away where we’re heading, and for many if not all of us this quote can at times feel trite and frustrating. But bear with me, there is a lot we’ll unpack along the way, and hopefully shift this quote from feeling trite to feeling expansive.
Let’s dive into the myth.
According to Homer, Sisyphus, the king of Cornith, was one of the wisest mortals to ever live, however perceptions of him differed and most recollections of his myth describe him as cunning and deceitful. Whether wise or cunning, he often used his cleverness to commit acts of trickery and defiance against the gods believing that through his creativity he could defy fate, and outsmart the gods.
One of Sisyphus’s most audacious acts was when he revealed the secrets of the gods. He betrayed their trust by divulging information that was meant to be kept among the divine beings. This act of defiance angered the gods, especially Zeus, who sought to punish Sisyphus for his arrogance.
As punishment, Zeus commanded Thanatos, the personification of death, to chain Sisyphus and drag him down to the Underworld. However, he managed to outwit Thanatos by convincing the god of death to demonstrate how the chains worked, and Sisyphus imprisoned him instead.
With Thanatos imprisoned, death ceased to exist. This caused chaos and disorder among both mortals and gods, as no one could die. Hades, the ruler of the Underworld, pleaded with Zeus to rectify the situation. In order to restore balance, Zeus was forced to intervene personally and release Thanatos from his captivity.
Upon his release, Thanatos descended upon Sisyphus to fulfill his original task of bringing him to the Underworld. Sisyphus, realizing the dire consequences that awaited him in the afterlife, quickly devised another plan to escape his fate. He convinced his wife, Merope, not to perform the customary rituals and offerings for his burial after he died. This ensured that his spirit would not be accepted into the Underworld.
When Sisyphus died, his spirit arrived in the Underworld, but he was refused entry due to the lack of proper burial rites. Sisyphus used this to his advantage persuading Persephone, queen of the Underworld to allow him to return to the mortal world to rectify the oversight. Persephone, intrigued by his persuasive abilities, granted his request.
Sisyphus returned to Corinth and resumed his kingly duties. However, he lived the rest of his days with the constant knowledge that death would eventually come for him. The gods, particularly Zeus, were not pleased with Sisyphus’s ability to evade fate and defy the natural order of things.
Upon his eventual demise, Sisyphus was condemned to eternal punishment in the Underworld. His task was to roll a massive boulder up a steep hill. But every time he neared the summit, the boulder would slip from his grasp and roll back down to the bottom, forcing him to begin the task anew. Sisyphus was caught in an endless cycle of labor and frustration, forever condemned to repeat this futile endeavor.
This myth is LOADED with meaning and there are so many ways I desire to take it, but to start it feels important to define fate. Time and time again throughout this myth Sisyphus uses all of his energy to defy fate, but what is fate and how does that apply to you?
Fate: According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary fate is the will, principle or determining cause by which things come to be as they are or happen as they do. Essentially, fate is your unique path as it is, right here and now. What you, for whatever reason, are meant to live into in this life and in this moment.
In the case of this myth, Sisyphus continually sought to alter the fate of death, a fate that we all carry as part of the natural cycles of death and rebirth.
Defying the gods, he used his cleverness to push off what was inevitable resulting in his eternal punishment of ceaselessly pushing a boulder up a hill, only to witness it roll back down again, thus perpetuating the pattern he had established in evading fate during his mortal life.
How does this apply to you and me?
Returning to our definition of fate: Fate is your unique path as it exists in the present moment. Fate is what is. It is the present. Not the Dominant Dogma narrative of “I’m not where I should be.” By embracing the belief of “I’m not where I should be,” one is essentially attempting to defy fate, leading to the perpetual sensation of pushing a boulder up a hill.
Instead of claiming the present, claiming freedom in the present, enoughness in the present, grief in the present, joy in the present, all. the. things. in the present. it’s trying to be more clever than the natural patterns of the universe in order to fit someone’s definition of what “should be.”
Thus, the freedom beyond the Dominant Dogma that says, “I’m not where I should be” is accepting, allowing, and dancing with your fate.
It’s claiming full presence.
However, that is not all this myth has to offer. Because being with the present, and being with fate, can be fucking miserable I want to offer one more lesson from this myth.
Fate is not always easy face and as my coach Madison Morrigan says, “Life is going to life” meaning no matter what we do, life will always do it’s thing, which leads me to the gods.
In the myth, Sisyphus pushes fate away by defying the gods. Looking at this myth metaphorically, because that is always the best route to go, I see these gods as reflecting our own inner conflicts.
Utilizing the book Archetypal Imagination, it states, “When the gods left Olympus, Jung suggested, they went into the unconscious and reign now in the solar plexus of the individual, or are projected into the world via the sundry sociopathies of a fragmented civilization.” More simply put, the gods of myth are mirrored in the conflicts, emotions and experiences that we hold internally and that are projected and lived out in our day-to-day, our communities, and in our culture.
Using the god Sisyphus sought to defy most regularly in the myth, Thanatos or death, we see this pattern mirrored in culture everywhere. In an effort to defy the inner conflict we have we death, we seek to make ourselves appear younger through creams, injections, surgeries, and photoshop. In an effort to avoid the inevitable pain and suffering of life we self-medicate through alcohol, drugs, entertainment, sex, you name it. Citing James Hollis again, “Not only do we flee the disruptive powers of the gods [our inner conflicts], we tend to shun the invitation to enlargement which such encounters invite.” Instead of honoring our inner gods or inner conflicts and being with our fate, we keep “shoulding” ourselves elsewhere thus missing both the good and the bad of the present.
I should be happier.
I should be further ahead.
I should be more successful.
I should be struggling less.
I should be: you fill in the blank.
Citing James Hollis one more time (also if you haven’t read the book Archetypal Imagination, I highly recommend), he states, “There is no need, in a polytheistic psychology, to integrate, to “get it all together,” or to find some ultimate blending of the many impulses and directions that erupt from the soul. A variety of gods and goddesses are to be honored, the tensions among them sustained and enjoyed.”
Meaning, instead of seeking to defy fate as Sisyphus did, what if you honored your inner gods and met your fate of the present? Flipping the previous statements to a place of honoring:
I honor the happiness I do have.
I honor where I am now.
I honor both the successes and failures of my life.
I honor my struggle.
What does it look like honor the inner gods of your lived experience? Only you can truly decide, but for me it looks different depending on the god.
The god of struggle often looks being with my anger and angst. Truly allowing myself to be angry about my struggles, expressing it through song, through tears, through journaling to my struggle and my fate. I also find that having an alter is extremely supportive for me where I use objects to honor my lived experiences. I place meaningful items on the alter, candles, drawings, images, whatever feels supportive for this honoring process.
Whew, and the truth is, I could go on and on regarding this topic, but I want to keep things manageable. Ultimately the freedom on the other side of “I not where I should be” is claiming full presence, and honoring all the tensions or inner gods that try to keep you from full presence is part of that process.
And that is where I am going to leave you today. As always, I offered my perspective into working with this myth, but I encourage you to notice what is present for you.
This type of practice can feel elusive, intense, and confusing, so I encourage you to drink lots of water, move your energy around however you prefer, and email me how this lands for you! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and I would absolutely love to hear from you.
Additionally, I want to remind you that I am currently taking on new 1:1 coaching clients! If you desire support as you honor your inner conflicts to claim freedom in the present, I would love to work with you! Within my coaching work I utilize a mix of cognitive behavioral coaching techniques, practical mindset tools and resources, and depth psychological principles (think dreams, images, and symbols) so that we can work in tandem with your psyche to create room for new possibilities, solutions, and Self-discovery amidst the daily challenges in life and business. If your curious and ready to work with me, shoot me a text at 815.914.6304 or head to megscolleen.com and let’s see if I’m the right coach for you.
I’ll see you in a couple of weeks: Freedom is yours,
Hollis, J. (2000). The archetypal imagination. Texas A & M University Press.
Mentions & More:
- This Youtube video from Alex Gendler (TED-ed) on the myth of Sisyphus
- The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of “Fate”
- Archetypal Imagination by James Hollis
- My new book, Live Your Freedom Now, is available for purchase
- My 1:1 coaching series. Book a FREE clarity call with me to get started: https://megscolleen.com/book-a-free-call/