There is a theme in the tragic Greek myths of repetition. Sisyphus pushing that stupid rock up that stupid hill, and Tantalus thinking that this time he’s really going to get a sip of water. And Prometheus, chained to the rock, feeling his liver regrow every night just so it could be eaten again the next day.
Failing again and failing better is the motto for serial entrepreneurs, for disruptive start ups, for charismatic founders explaining that they built their success by hiring the best and brightest, and creating the space to fail. Failing differently is the keynote takeaway in a Silicon Alley tech summit. Failing the same is Greek tragedy.
I have a rough time with certain aspects of living in Chapel Hill, and there’s a special kind of tragedy in knowing that I have already identified and taken extreme measures to take those things out of my life. Troubleshooting my issues with the state is identifying things I already know, that I already have known (“It’s driving, Meg! You don’t ACTUALLY want everyone in the state to die, you just hate to drive!”), but the possible solutions are things I’ve tried, and failed. (Maybe I’ll work out complicated backroutes to places and only travel at off-peak hours! Maybe I’ll just never leave my house! Maybe I’ll just have Harold drive me everywhere! Maybe one day I’ll just wake up and get over it?) The driving is the worst offended, but the slowness, oh, God, the incredible Southern slowness. And I pinpoint that — Meg, you hate people most when you are waiting for simple things — and I try to solve it. Become more zen about delays. Always bring my Kindle, with some interesting reading on it. Attempt to chat with others about nothing while waiting. Just get over it. Be fully present in the moment, and breathe, and think This is my now, this is what I am doing at this particular moment, this is a moment in my life and I am spending it WAITING FOR THIS IDIOT TO PERFORM AN INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TASK WHAT HAVE I DONE WRONG IN MY LIFE TO BRING ME TO THIS POINT? Some of my attempts are more successful than others. These are all problems I’ve had before, and solutions I’ve tried before. There are traffic intersections, social interactions, and other problems I can’t master, and I know that my life was happier without struggling with them. I know, because I’ve experienced it before.
Hating the area is strange because other people like living here so much. They are genuinely happy about the weather and the cost of living and the lifestyle. And I’m just not.
I’m constantly reminding myself to make the best of things, to look for something good, to not let my attitude become another obstacle, to change things I can, to focus on what is good. And even this refrain is a solution I’ve tried before.
I’m pretty sure the Greeks were on to something.