The problem with being too driven…

The problem with being too driven in self-work and self-awareness.

Tonight I am pondering the endless work of Sisyphus. The endless pushing of the stone up the hill, the endless rolling of the stone to the bottom of the hill, the eternal suffering for the sake of ‘progress,’ and the slaves that it makes of us.

Sisyphus pushing the rock.

Progress is a myth in the sense that; progress can happen, but it will never be the salvation of humankind while humankind exists. To gain this non-existent progress, we must work endlessly, more than ever, we must slave for something we cannot have, and for something that is also endless. We must be Sisyphus, ever struggling, always tired, never ‘there yet.’

And tonight I’m pondering it specifically in relationship to my own attitudes towards self-work. My struggle for the myth of progress within myself, has created a situation where I have become a slave to that progress, and now I suffer greatly for it. That is its greatest irony. The flaw of my consciousness that pits me against myself.

So once more, in order to understand this, I turn to the innate wit and knowledge of animals. And again, to one of the most unthinking of animals; the snail. I do not wish to be a slave to self-work. It makes me suicidal and at best, it makes me absolutely certain that life is without a point. That is not something they teach you about in therapy, and – I believe – it is not in the curricula of therapists either. That self-work can lead to death if it is not balanced with an unconscious, ‘animal’ care of the self.

It can’t all be conscious thought and maintenance. That is to be a slave to consciousness. And without consciousness, we wouldn’t have mental illness in the first place (no, really; the most unconscious of animals don’t even have ‘mental illness’ in their lexicon for a reason). It is a grand irony then, that the very thing that makes us so dysfunctional by animal standards is the very thing we – sometimes wrongly – depend upon to regain function.

Animism has taught me differently. Consciousness has its place, but so does unconsciousness which makes up the vastness of the bodymind in the first place, and informs our ‘free will’ so that we will nothing that our unconscious doesn’t ask of us first. And I have learnt more from the instinctive and innate world of other species than I have from any book or any other human animal. Consciousness will have its place in my healing, but right now it has made me a slave of the healing process, and it will be my unconscious that frees me.

I am tired of being a Sisyphus to my own mental health and mental illness. I will try to go a Snail’s way. I will let the great stone roll down to the bottom of the hill and leave it there. I will go and innately find food and shelter, rest and play, rain and crispy green things. Not in the name of progress, not even in the name of health, but because that is what animals will sometimes do. And if health or progress comes of it, then I am sure the therapeutic world may be happier, and my friends and family might be happier, and I might even benefit from it in the long-term.

snail as totem - by Ravenari

But if nothing comes of it, at least in the short term I cannot say that my life is pointless any longer. Because there is nothing pointless in the rain and green crispy things, in rest and play, in food and shelter.

And because there is a great deal of pointlessness in being Sisyphus, rolling my stone of ‘self-work’ up the hill only to see it fall to the bottom again representing yet another allotment of heavy work for the tired and overworked; the endless, eternal suffering for the myth of progress.

02. all you need is - by Ravenari

6 thoughts on “The problem with being too driven…

  1. oh thankyou again pia. ❤
    If you were a child at my daughter's steiner school (rudolf steiner based) the teachers there would describe you as one who has not fully incarnated into her body yet. Sometimes we miss this crucial step as children, when we are robbed of the oppourtunity to be children, and we lose the ability to process the world around us through play. So yes, do play, go feel your body and enjoy the strength that is also within it. The green crispy things and the rest and the sensation of being a human-animal in this body for a time. So go be a snail, just be wary of being drawn too far into your shell.;)
    Sending you love and strength and health.

    • I often look at places like Steiner Schools and wish I had gone, because I think they would have provided such a good space for me; rather than the regimented yet lax public schools that I went to. They tried their best, but a public school in Australia, in a low socioeconomic area can only do so well.

      You’re not the first to have brought up the idea that I may not have been fully incarnated into my body yet. It’s actually come up in a range of places, including therapy! I hear it so much, I should probably pay some more attention to it!

  2. You are so well-spoken, and I learn something from you every time we talk. I, too, struggle with the idea of what “progress” is supposed to be. I don’t doubt that good things are on their way, now that you’ve put down the stone.

    • *hugs*

      I hope that good things are on the way. Posting this came about a day before the worst night I’ve had in a year and a half. The pendulum is really swinging on me at the moment.

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