Sisyphean Tasks

Pronounced: [sis-uh-fee-uhn]

Your mother gives you the task of weeding the garden one Saturday. The garden isn’t too large, and you think you’ll be able to finish the task quickly. After a few hours of weeding, you notice that the garden looks just as weedy as before. Then, as you pull up a dandelion, you see a thistle immediately sprout out of the ground nearby. As you pull up that thistle, a small patch of clovers emerge just behind you. The faster you weed, the faster the weeds grow!

Discuss: What would you do in this situation? How long would it take you to try to accomplish the task your mother gave you before you would give up?

In Greek mythology, the gods punished a king named Sisyphus for his trickery in a most frustrating way. He was sent to the underworld with the chance to make it to paradise if he could only roll a boulder to the top of a mountainside. Sisyphus spent eternity pushing the boulder all the way up to just inches from the top before it would inevitably fall back down to the bottom. Tasks that seem endless or pointless are often called Sisyphean tasks.

Discuss: Have each family member think of a job that seems Sisyphean. In the end, do they always turn out to be pointless, or are some efforts worth the battle? What are some rewarding and also futile efforts you have had in life, and what have you learned from them?


Ryan Swapp

About the Author

Ryan Swapp

Calm and collected but sometimes outrageous. Check out my website for more info!