Dawn Corrigan

Tibetan monk Geshe Chekawa specialized in bodhicitta, seeking enlightenment not for personal gain but in order to benefit all sentient beings. On his deathbed, he prayed to be sent to hell to help alleviate the suffering of the lost souls there.

Sisyphus was a figure from Greek mythology, fated eternally to roll a rock up a hill in Hades, which eternally rolls back down the hill as soon as he gets it to the top.

Sisyphus' sin was that he tattled on Zeus when the god was having one of his innumerable affairs. One day Sisyphus, who was king of Corinth, happened to look up at the sky and noticed an eagle flying by, carrying a maiden in its talons and heading for a nearby island. "There's trouble," he thought to himself. When the distraught river-god Asopus showed up at the palace gates a short while later to say his daughter had disappeared, Sisyphus told what he had seen and what he suspected, thus sealing his own doom. You don't mess with a god and his nookie.

If, to our modern sensibilities, the punishment of Sisyphus seems extreme in relation to his crime, perhaps we might take a moment to wonder how our own system of rewards and punishments will look to those who come long after us.

The only break Sisyphus has ever taken from his eternal toil occurred when the poet Orpheus visited the underworld to attempt to bring his dead wife Eurydice back to the world of the living. When Orpheus passed, singing and playing his lyre, Sisyphus sat down upon his rock and listened.

Such is the power of poetry, or so the ancients believed.

But that was a long time ago. Pity Sisyphus and his eons of fruitless labor. But wait! Perhaps the saintly Geshe Chekawa, a relatively recent arrival in the underworld, might be induced to take over the stone rolling for a while, so that once again Sisyphus can rest.

I am the author. I say he does.

Dawn Corrigan's fiction has appeared in Opium Magazine, Pindeldyboz, Hobart, Monkeybicycle, Bound Off, Dogzplot, and elsewhere. Her nonfiction appears regularly at The Nervous Breakdown.

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Detail of photo on main page: mosaic depiction of Orpheus from the Imperial Roman period.

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