I think about Sisyphus a lot.
The agony of forcing a boulder up a hill, only for it to all come crashing down. It’s something that Final Fantasy XIV’s Warrior of Light experiences on repeat. They save a people, a land, their friends – but the happiness never lasts. They are a hero in a story, and a story needs conflict. They must always return the boulder to the summit, teetering where it belongs.
I don’t form good habits easily. My ADHD diagnosis has thrown a life battered by Sisyphean landslides into perspective. The work is unending, and hard-won ground can vanish at a moment’s notice. Health and happiness shine at the summit, while apathy and sorrow lurk at the bottom. I oscillate between; life is a mountain.
In Shadowbringers, the Warrior of Light is asked a question when they’re at the base of one such mountain; outmatched and about to give in: “If you had the strength to take another step, could you do it?”
Why do stories about heroes so often reflect a mythological punishment? King Sisyphus was punished for trying to cheat death, but for the Warrior of Light the boulder is a weapon, not a prison. It’s how they defy death no matter how much they’ve suffered. At the summit they find a reason to endure that suffering: a sunrise on a world they love. They get there one step at a time.
Shadowbringers reminded me that in my lowest moments, I don’t need to be strong enough to climb a mountain, I just need to be strong enough to take another step.