Let me tell you the sort of thing that you could appropriately do all day when there’s a dangerous pandemic and your state is on fire.
Say you have a quilt top. You’ve pieced it together, you’ve ordered the backing material online from China because you can’t go to a fabric store anymore in case it’s sneezy in there, you’ve got your batting, and you’re all ready to make a fabric sandwich. You have a decent-size table you can lay your backing fabric on. It’s not quite as big as your quilt, so it hangs off the sides. You carefully smooth out your fabric, you carefully smooth out your batting on top of it, and then you ever so carefully settle your quilt top over the whole schmear and prepare to safety-pin it together so you can stitch it down.
That’s one safety pin every four inches, radiating out from the center, smoothing all the while. Stab pin through to the table, laboriously wriggle pin back up, coax pin closed with a fingernail, repeat.
Four episodes of a Netflix series later, you have pinned everything you can reach and you’ve carefully tugged it to one side to get the parts that were hanging over. Then the other side. Then the third side. Then
When you come to, and when whoever was screaming has let up, you realize that the backing material is about an inch shy of being enough on the fourth side. Not because there wasn’t enough material. Because your Depression-era parents have inflicted a legacy of thrift on you and you were trying not to waste the extra fabric.
It’s not so bad, really. All that is required is to undo all the safety pins, poink poink poink, all 276 of them, and start over, wondering what Sisyphus would have accomplished during a plague.
We all know that Sisyphus guy. The guy who claims he’s working, but he never gets anything done. What the hell got him into that fix, anyway?
You hear things. There are an awful lot of stories, but in the case of Sisyphus most of them involve him going to hell.
He was the king of Corinth, and he was a smartypants. Gods do not like that in a man. First time he died and went to Hades, he wrapped Thanatos (a.k.a. Death) up in chains and prevented him from making people die. And that did not go over well with Ares, the god of war, who was no longer having any fun setting people against each other if they just zipped back up like a Whack-A-Mole set. Ares intervened on Thanatos’ behalf and everyone got a do-over.
Second time Sisy died and went to Hades, he was all “been there, beat that.” He was an old hand at this. He’d told his wife not to offer any of the usual sacrifices and tributes to the underworld upon his death, and so he had a little leverage. The soft spot was Persephone, Hades’ wife. He persuaded her that if he could just go back to life, he could tell his wife to pay up. But of course once he was topside again he just skated on the deal and lived to be a very old man, because Thanatos did not care to see him again anytime soon.
There is no record of how his wife felt about him continuing to pop back to life every time she figured she could move on.
But eventually he died again, and this time the big guy Zeus checked hiim in and had the neat notion that if Sisyphus was so eager to remain alive, he should at least push that boulder up the hill for all eternity and see how he likes them apples. Which is a very familiar scenario to most of us, only in this case there was no prospect for retirement.
It was probably his wife’s idea. She was probably up there sticking pins in a little Sisyphus doll. Over and over again.