26th Eulogy: Sisyphus And Rocks22 min read

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I am Dick David. As is my tradition, I am reviewing my life this year (2023) in a self-written living eulogy. I hope you enjoy it and also find it helpful.

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I felt like Sisyphus for most of this year. Sisyphus is a figure from Greek mythology who is condemned to endlessly push a big rock up a hill only to watch it roll back down.

Sisyphus doesn’t have a choice – he either pushes that enormous rock or gets crushed. It’s not like something he can leave, or run away from. It is a source of constant danger, stress, and anxiety.

But, I was not just weighed down by external pressure. I was also being weighed down by my ideas, beliefs, habits, and feelings. It wasn’t just a rock. It was several rocks. I wanted to abandon them, but, like Sisyphus, that would only mean crushing myself.

Let me share a couple of stories to help you relate. 

Am I Sisyphus? Some Big Rocks I Had To Push This Year

I finished my NYSC in November last year. During my service year, I lived alone. I didn’t feel much pressure in my daily life. Yes, I had to cook every day, trekked long distances, and struggled with the power supply, but I was still living life on my terms: I ate what I wanted. I went where I wanted. I slept when I wanted. I didn’t have to worry about anything, except my safety on those dark and lonely nights. But, in all, I was quite happy, especially thanks to the regular allowance given by the government and living within trekking distance to a friend.

Returning home was nice. It meant I didn’t have to worry about feeding or accommodation which I understand is a huge weight on a lot of people – sufficient for them to justify acting in unethical ways (fraud, robbery, prostitution, etcetera). 

Anyway, I wasn’t excited. I was basically leaving my solitude and coming to a city where I basically had no friends. It also didn’t take long for other rocks to replace the ones that were taken off. I mean, the kids at home immediately became my responsibility, then the compound (the lawn), and of course, my Mom. 

At first, I mostly felt nostalgic about life back when I served during the NYSC. I even once revisited and spent a few days there just to see a friend, and enjoy some of that sweet clear headspace and silence.

But, ultimately, I had to push my new rocks upwards.

The Shop

Since my Dad’s passing in 2021, we have been renewing the shop rent because there were still a lot of goods left. Someone needed to sell the merchandise, and I was now the only person around.

I started going to the shop and tried to sell as much as I could. There were limited customers and I didn’t even know the current price of the goods. I often had to call someone to inquire. 

Being in the shop also meant I had a lot of distractions; From people coming to inquire about goods to the noise of the vehicles outside, there was just too much noise for me to write there. 

Due to limited sales and the challenges of writing under such conditions, I decided it was best to temporarily close the shop while I stayed back home. Then we offered a significantly reduced price to attract bulk purchases from other businesses. This approach proved successful, allowing us to clear a substantial portion of our inventory.  

But, again, working from home only made me realise that I was just substituting the weight of being in the shop with the weight of babysitting.

Cry of Babies

My Sister’s children were home. And, if you know anything about kids, you know that they can be extremely dependent, playful, destructive, and quite frustrating to deal with.

I swear, I wasn’t ready for this. I wiped asses, got pissed and vomited on, pampered, carried, and fed. I had to give instructions, watch, judge, punish, reward, and lead. I had to control my temper, master patience, listen, really really listen, and explain a lot. I had to do this every day. There were no breaks or weekends.

You know, as a writer, silence and the early hours of the day are sacred. But, exactly those two things were the things I couldn’t have. I had to help ready the kids for school, and once they were back, noise ensued. And, you just can’t shut your doors and use a muffler because you really want to listen for trouble. 

And, there was a lot of trouble.

For instance, I had to, rush out to stop fights, help an injured kid, and kill snakes. Yes, snakes – I killed more snakes this year than I had in my entire life. It was thrilling – overcoming fear is thrilling.

I figured that if you focus on pushing that rock threatening to crush all you care about, you might even find pleasure in it.

Then, there was a job opening…

“Did you get the job?”

I applied for a job at Nigeria Liquified and Natural Gas Limited (NLNG). I passed the online test – which I had to study for – and was invited for a physical assessment. Getting this sort of job is a huge deal in Nigeria. Even someone who said he came from Scotland attended the assessment.

The assessment was held at Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, Rivers State. It was my first. I’ve never gone for an interview or assessment for a job before. And, I don’t think I ever will again (because I think focusing on my writing will bring more money, freedom, and satisfaction in the long run).

The assessment was sophisticated: Upon arrival, we waited in the hotel lobby. Then, someone called us up, in groups of about 5 persons each. We entered the elevator and went up. Then, we proceeded to a room where we submitted the necessary documents and were given alphanumeric tags (because the company didn’t want any biases to be triggered by our names). We proceeded to a separate room where we were addressed, and then split into about 5 groups, with 5 people in each group. In my group, I was the only male.

The first task was a group task. We were each presented with a document detailing the operations of an organisation. We worked as a team to go through the documents and proffer solutions to some of their challenges. 

During the round table discussion, we took turns talking, and the conversation flowed smoothly. However, one participant kept apologizing whenever we happened to speak at the same time. I gently encouraged her to stop apologising as it wasn’t necessary. 

As a side note, I think if you have something important to say you should say it. It is okay to pause and let the other person finish (or even continue if they paused for you), but there is no need apologising over and over again, especially when you are not cutting off the person mid-sentence (and if you are doing that, you prolly should stop rather than just apologising). 

I’m not saying this in an antagonistic way, I’m just saying you don’t have to apologise so much, especially when you haven’t done anything wrong. And, even when you do something wrong, focus more on becoming better.

Anyway, I think we did well. 

Then, we had a coffee break. 

The second assessment was similar to the first, except that this time around, we had to individually make a presentation explaining why and how we came up with our solutions or suggestions. 

After this, we had a lunch break. Sitting at the table with the other ladies was nice. Without them saying much about themselves, I could almost get a feel of their background and personality. It’s really hard to hide who you are – your words, demeanour, and tastes reveal you.

The final assessment was also on an individual basis. But, unlike the first two, we were the ones asking the questions. We were to ask questions that would enable us to decide between two options. However, at one point I got a bit pissed because they refused to give me an answer to a question (this question was at the core of my decision). Then secondly, they started feeding me with (useless) information I didn’t ask for. I leaned back on the chair until they were done.  

When asked to defend my position, I struggled to justify my arguments effectively. However, when I was reunited with the other candidates, it became clear that every choice had merits and drawbacks. It was a classic catch-22 situation, and I doubt the choice was even the point of the whole exercise. (I believe there were no right or wrong answers, and that they only aimed to observe how arrived at our decisions and responded when our decisions were questioned.).

After this, we went back, dropped the name tags, and picked the documents which we submitted earlier. The company also gave us a gift ATM card with 15k in it. I appreciated that. That was more than some people’s salary, you know. 

Anyway, about two months later, I got an email from them. I wasn’t chosen. I wasn’t a great fit or perhaps they got the maximum required number and I wasn’t lucky to have come first. In any case, it stung a bit. Then it stung less.

I forgot to mention. I exchanged contacts with two ladies on my team. I kind of liked one though. She was fair, pretty, smart, and busty. She was also the one who kept apologising. But, she took way too long to respond to chats (I interpreted this as a lack of interest). The other entirely stopped responding to my messages after the mail was sent to everyone. Anyway, I eventually deleted their numbers. I respect that friendships are a huge investment, and not everyone has that much time or energy during my age bracket.

The chapter closed, and I was back to writing. Nevertheless, the level of organisation and high standards of NLNG sparked something in me. I want Pawns – this brand – to be that great. 

Visa Trouble

My Sister and her husband have been outside the country for almost a year now. But, due to some constraints, they couldn’t take the kids with them as they left. However, there had always been plans to bring them over. 

When the time was right, the kids needed a Passport and Visa. And, who else to recruit for the task of getting those other than yours truly?

I visited Umuahia, Abia State, twice. Many of the staff I interacted with at the immigration office were dicks. One in particular stood out. I think his name was Yakubu. He resisted me from getting the Passports even after they were ready. I don’t want to get into the details, but just know Yakubu was a huge dick.

On one of my visits, I had to sleep over at Umudike, a neighbouring city where I had also schooled. They couldn’t give me the Visas because “Network was down”. I had to call a friend’s brother to get accommodation. A reminder that having good friends lessens your burden in this life. 

Anyway, I got those green passports, all 5 of them. Then I also got mine.

A few months later I would be taking all 5 children to Lagos where they would be doing both the Tuberculosis test as well as capturing for the Visa.

The journey to Lagos was crazy. It rained that morning, and we had to go to the park under the downpour. The road was horrible and the rain only made it worse. The road was so bad only videos can describe it. At one point our car got knocked by a trailer from the back, propelling it to go hit another trailer at the front. Thankfully, no injuries were sustained.

Then, at Ore, in Ondo State (a few miles away from Lagos), the car’s gearbox got fried. We had to sleep over at a filling station. I didn’t sleep that night until around 1 or 2. Then we were up by 4am. We eventually had to hitch another ride at an extra cost to get to Lagos that morning because our appointment time was already close and the mechanics hadn’t fixed the ride yet.

Once in Lagos, everything was surprisingly smooth. From the Bolt ride to the staff at the St. Nicholas Hospital located on Lagos Island. The next day, I picked up the results of the test. Then the following day, I took all the kids to TLScontact – Visa Application Center, Victoria Island where their biometrics were captured for the Visa. 

Our journey back home was even more treacherous than our journey to Lagos. Our tire got busted. And, even when we got to Rivers State, we couldn’t find a vehicle to take us to our city because it was almost 11 pm and the military had put a curfew on cars. We managed to find some motorcycles, but one of those broke down along the way. 

Now, at almost midnight, even motorcycles were scarce. Thankfully, we got another bike and got home by 1 am. Everyone was worried. We literally met Mom and my other Sis outside on arrival.

Apart from the exhaustion, my shoulders hurt badly from carrying the baggage and kids. 

Anyway, a few months later they will all get their Visas approved. The mission was a success.

“Give her the walking Stick”

Remember when I talked about listening for trouble? Well, apart from that time when one of the kids went limp because of Malaria, freaking everyone out, my niece broke her thigh bone. 

The injury was bizarre because she didn’t fall from any height or get knocked by a vehicle. She just collided with another (smaller) kid and the bone snapped into two like toothpicks. It took about a month and 2 weeks to get her to use a walking stick. And, all those times, guess who was handling the urine and faeces?

The experience really made me understand the value of acceptance and patience. Acceptance because there is nothing we can do to avoid the situation as it has already happened. And patience not just because it tested mine, but because I saw someone sitting in a single position for over a month. 

People don’t really have an excuse, they just have options. And, in this age of too many options, only those who can be patient with a choice can see a miracle happen – just like I watched a femur rejoin, and she walked into the plane with her legs.

“Mom, take your meds.”

It’s funny but, as we grow older, we slowly begin to switch roles with our parents. Little by little, you start becoming the one to tell them what to do and what not to do. For example, you have to remind your mom to take her meds and cajole her not to stress her frail body. 

Out of respect and privacy, I won’t go much into this. But, I want you to understand that this – i.e. role reversal – is a huge rock on its own.

And, for many young people about my age or older, it is important to realize that this burden is only going to get heavier and heavier until you will eventually have to deal with the ultimate weight of losing your parents.

If you are still younger or still have both parents hail and hearty, this is the perfect time to spend more time with them and show them that you love them – buying them nice things, spending time with them, and not being a dick.

“Hello, your Grandma is dead.”

Have you ever been with someone who forgets you’re in the same room with them every 2 minutes? They look away, and upon setting eyes on you again are genuinely surprised that you are there. 

When my Grandma’s health was critical, I came to visit. I can’t recall how many times I heard her say, “Oh, David, you came around?”. She didn’t call me David, neither was she speaking English. But, you get the idea.

At one point, she said to me, “David, I am dying”, almost bursting into tears. Then she slept off. 

A few months later, around 9 pm, they called and informed us she was dead.

I would later find myself unsettled and cynical about humanity because of her funeral. There were ridiculous demands put forth as burial rights (by the family she was married from), and I got particularly triggered after seeing people who I know didn’t like her fake tears at her funeral. 

Being the one who edited the funeral brochure – and had to read all the Tributes – I was simply disgusted by the blatant lies and exaggerated love. It is things like this that make me unenthusiastic about shows and events. The truth is that most people don’t care, and it is often the people close to you that dislike you the most (secretly, of course). 

It is best to not try to impress people, but rather appreciate and invest in those who are not just smiling and saying nice things to your face, but who are sacrificing for you and who are honest to let you know they don’t like certain things you do (when you do them). 

Be real. Don’t try.

“Hey bro, be my Best Man.”

It was a good news. My Brother was getting married, and out of his numerous friends, he chose me as his best man. 

Now, for most people, that will be met with excitement and jubilation, but for me, it was anxiety-inducing. I am introverted, can’t dance, and struggle with my self-esteem. In fact, I went on to inform him that I couldn’t do it, because of how increasingly nervous the whole thing made me as the day approached. 

He wouldn’t have it. My sisters wouldn’t have it. My friends wouldn’t have it. No one would have it. I remember my niece telling me, “You must do it, whether you like it or not”. The metaphorical rock followed my head as I tried to evade it. Eventually, it landed.

I did it. I was his best man. 

It was also funny because many people thought I was the one marrying and started sending me congratulatory messages. I won’t blame them, my brother and I look very alike, and guys my age are married.

I learned an unforgettable lesson about confidence that day. I learned that confidence isn’t about becoming a certain way, but rather making peace with how you are. I accepted that I couldn’t dance, and didn’t like being in a crowd. So, on that day, I didn’t even try to do any of those. I just focused on standing next to and behind my brother and doing all that he requested. 

“Dad, but why?”

When I was younger, between 17 and 19, I asked my Dad why a man would have a secret family outside. He told me I wouldn’t understand. I pressed on, “Isn’t that evil and wrong?!”. He, again, calmly told me that when I grew up, it would all make sense. And, fuck, it all makes sense now.

This year, I’ve intentionally tried to fall in love, but all I ever really accomplished was to educate myself that I could, in fact, be in love with many people at once. And, I don’t just mean the misguided lust for sex alone, but a genuine desire to care for, support, and be there for someone. 

It all made me understand how people can cheat on the people they love. It is not that they don’t care for their partner, but that they somehow, also feel attracted to the other person. And, guess what that reminds me of? Polygamy.

Of course, I know cheating and polygamy have serious downsides, but the point is that it all made sense to me. And, it made me understand that respect, honesty, aligned values, a clear vision, and high standards are much more important things to consider than love

As you grow in life, you will begin to understand that people don’t always make bad decisions because they are evil. Sometimes they just followed their hearts and didn’t know any better. You can be better. 

If there is anything I learned about love, it is that it is best when you focus on quality rather than quantity. Don’t fall in love – and take on the burden of love – until you find that person you are willing to lift a mountain for – the person you’re willing to listen to their complaints, assist financially, stay with during sickness and in health, and so on.

Take the time to understand yourself, what you love, and most importantly what you can bear. Because love is a burden. 

Like a rock, letting go of love will often crush all that has been built under it – this could be intimacy, wealth, and even children.

This is why I argue that I am not afraid to fall in love or be committed to someone. I am afraid of committing to someone who would limit and possibly destroy my life. I want a lady who is intelligent, curious, caring, open-minded, and bodacious.

I did something similar in picking my career path. I took my time to study and think about my unique circumstances, what I liked, and what I was willing to put all my time, energy, and resources into. My pick was writing. I ignore traditional jobs and quit drawing to focus on writing because I love writing, it is a high-income skill, and it gives me a lot of freedom and time.

Who would my romantic partner be? It will be someone who I simply can’t imagine not being without, just as I can’t imagine not writing.

And, just as I’ve invested so much into my writing, I believe that person will ultimately be one of my biggest investments in this life.

One Must Imagine Sisyphus Happy

Albert Camus famously declared, “One must imagine Sisyphus happy”. Camus’s assertion that Sisyphus can be happy despite his ceaseless suffering sounds ridiculous. Yet, in a counterintuitive way, it is profound.

Camus’s point was that the realization of the absurd – the realization that there will never be an end to your trials – should not lead to despair but rather to a sense of liberation. Once we accept that life comes with inherent and unavoidable suffering, we are free to choose our own pain and purpose, thereby creating our own meaning.

To imagine Sisyphus happy is to recognize that he is not merely a victim of his fate but an active participant in his own existence. He is aware of the futility of trying to overcome his burden but finds meaning and satisfaction in pushing the rock. Camus suggests that the secret to Sisyphus’s happiness lies not in the goal of reaching the top of the hill but in the struggle itself. The same can be said for me.

Despite the stress:

  • Caring for my sister’s children made me a more patient and capable leader. 
  • While not securing the job at NLNG, the experience opened my eyes to the intense competition that exists and the importance of continuous self-improvement.
  • Obtaining passports and visas for my sister’s children instilled in me a deep appreciation for determination, social connections, and resourcefulness. 
  • Stepping into the role of Best Man at my brother’s wedding made me more confident.
  • The passing of my Grandmother prompted a profound reflection on societal norms, the nature of human relationships, and the inevitability of death. While it evoked a mix of emotions, it has also deepened my appreciation for the precious moments of life and made me extra cautious of the people I give my time and energy.

Etcetera. 

In all, my greatest struggles this year have added the greatest meanings to my life and led to my greatest improvements. 

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If I Am Sisyphus, Then…

From Nursery school to this very moment, it has been one important thing or the other coming to take my time and energy. Since it has become clear that there will always be a rock to push upwards I have decided to choose which to push. 

My goal for 2024 is to become a millionaire and find myself a girlfriend. Yes, I understand those are huge rocks too. I understand that making money or having a relationship isn’t just about the nice things I can get with the money or the experiences I can have with my partner. It’s also about the hard work and sacrifice that goes into achieving and maintaining those things. It’s about how much stress and pain I’m willing to endure for the things that matter to me.

If I am Sisyphus, then I’ll push my rocks happily.

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I enjoy writing long-form SEO content for self-help and personal development blogs. I can also do simple graphics design and copywriting. I’m an author, coach, logician, introvert, and storyteller. I love simplicity.

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13 thoughts on “26th Eulogy: Sisyphus And Rocks<span class="wtr-time-wrap after-title"><span class="wtr-time-number">22</span> min read</span>”

  1. This is inspiring man. I got value from it, I love it man. I also jotted some of your words down in my note on my phone, “ People don’t really have an excuse, they just have options. And, in this age of too many options, only those who can be patient with a choice can see a miracle happens,” that’s one of the words.

    Reply
  2. Dick Daniel – Nigeria – I am committed to building HIGH-FLYERS who have the fear of God ©️ Graphic Designer | Online Preacher

    This is profound and really inspiring..

    Thanks a lot for sharing, I pray you achieve all you have set out to achieve in 2024.

    Can’t wait to read your eulogy come Dec 1st 2024

    Reply
  3. This is quite an in depth eulogy. Your matching up of Sisyphus and your life last year is brilliant.
    I found lots of lessons that will be useful to me in this piece.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

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