Atlas was a Titan who defied the Olympian gods and his punishment was to forever hold the sky (not the earth, as is often depicted) on his shoulders. Personally, I prefer the Earth image, especially as its current condition weighs heavily on all our shoulders and asks to be shared. When it’s not, we can often feel that we alone are bearing all the weight.
Atlas didn’t like this anymore than we do, so when Hercules needed his help to fetch some golden apples he needed as one of his 12 Labors, Atlas said he would gladly do it if Hercules would just hold up the heavens while he fetched the apples. Hercules had no choice but to agree and while Atlas did get the apples, he also saw his opportunity to be released from his punishment as the deal was that anyone who took on that burden had to carry it forever unless someone else took it away. So Hercules took the heavens, Atlas fetched the apples and then told Hercules “have a nice life!” But Hercules, no fool, said he would gladly bear the burden, but that his shoulders were hurting and he needed to re-arrange his cloak to give him more padding. Atlas agreed to hold the heavens for a few minutes and the moment Hercules passed it on— well, you can guess. He grabbed the apples and ran.
This is on my mind at the moment for this morning I got some news that weighed me down. One was a disturbing family matter, another a disturbing announcement from my former school, one the usual rush of dire mid-term election predictions (minus Michael Moore’s which continue to give me hope) and the last some inside stories about what’s happening in a country where the participants in my Istanbul workshop live. (It feels stupid not to say the name, but these days, one never knows, does one? It might cause some problems for someone.) On top of this, I tested myself for Covid yesterday and am happily negative, but feel like I have an old-fashioned cold that lowers my strength and resilience.
But nevertheless, I persist and after a day of slapping our bodies around, enjoying a fabulous lunch and dinner, loving the smiles and questions and conversations with yet another group of stellar human beings, the sky is not falling on my head. Yet still, oh you bad, bad people that keep causing so much harm and hurt because you can’t find your own beauty inside (and hey, there are lots of us out here who could help you!) and you good people making bad choices and hurting those you love and you committees making dubious decisions based on some weird corporate thinking, can you just stop and help hold up a piece of the sky?