Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sisyphus and the Garden Hose

Sisyphus by Titian, 1549

It was an odd dream. I had to get water from far away to a galvanized steel water trough and the hose was short by two inches. Don't you hate it when that happens? You pull and tug, trying to stretch out all the kinks and twists. It looks like it's j-u-u-u-s-t going to make it, you let go, it shrinks back and you're two inches short again. The Myth of Sisyphus revisited.

I literally scratched my head and tried to think of anything that might work. Standing nearby was a woman, her two young sons, and her husband, a hard-working handyman-type, the kind of guy you'd expect to have a common sense solution for something like this. She asked him if he had any ideas but he scratched his head and looked dumbfounded.

At that moment, the lights came on, and I began tracing the course of the hose, discovering it passed through a neighbor's patio that was cluttered with old, rusted bicycles. I reasoned that if I cleared the path I might get the inches I needed. Just before I reached for one of the bikes, the woman admonished me to exercise caution -- they were old and fragile. So, I carefully lifted one of them out of the way, pulled on the hose, and I was golden.

The dilemma posed by this dream is how to get water to the trough when it looks like there's not enough hose. Some problems are truly related to inadequate resources. But in my dream, it's actually not the length of the hose, but the fact that it's path crosses interpersonal territory that creates the difficulty. As long as we live in community, we're going to run into situations like this. Resolving them depends as much on our willingness to be considerate as it does anything else. Sometimes that may be all it takes.


(Public doman image of Sisyphus via Wikipedia)
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