“You have already grasped that Sisyphus is the absurd hero. He is, as much through his passions as through his torture. His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing. This is the price that must be paid for the passions of this earth.” -Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus
When I found out that I’d be allowed to go home for Easter last year, the first thing I did is ask my parents if they wanted to go to a Nats game. I’d just finished two months of treatment for anxiety and depression. I was doing well, better than I had in a while, but I was tired of winter in Vermont and devouring whatever baseball news I could from ESPN and nightly phone calls with my friends. I wanted to see my team again.
We were lucky–it was a great game. A Good Friday matchup between the Nats and the Phillies–Nats won it in ten innings, in dramatic fashion (a walk off home run, if memory serves). I remember being grateful for the first strong sunshine I’d felt in months. I remember trying to make my Orioles fan best friend dance along with Bruno Mars when it played in the ballpark. But more than anything, I remember Adam Eaton.
A groundout in the fifth, a walk in the ninth, and if I recall correctly, some impressive defense. I hadn’t gotten to see Eaton play at all so far that season (he was a December 2016 acquisition from the White Sox), but I’d heard about his opening day homer, and I was looking forward to seeing how his season would go. As you know, it ended far too early. MRIs taken later that month revealed a torn ACL and meniscus and a sprained ankle. Needless to say, he didn’t return that season.
I was disappointed, to say the least. Eaton’s start was so promising, and it was a shame to see him robbed of his first full season with the team. I found myself checking up on him on social media at least once a week. Luckily, he seemed to have a really good attitude about his situation. He spent a lot of quality time with his adorable son, Brayden (better known as “Bman”) and posted lots of photos of nice cars. Photos and videos of his recovery process were always good to see, and helped my spirits, and thinking about the two of us, wildly different people who will never meet, each on our own healing journeys, with good and bad days alike, made me feel a bit better about being in treatment while all my friends were at college.
After another numbing end to the season, I tried to focus on good news, and any updates on Eaton’s recovery and plans for spring training. As we all know, he had another great start to the 2018 season, and, as we all hate to be reminded, he was deprived of the season he deserves yet again, this time by a chondral flap on his ankle, which was found during an arthroscopic surgery in Green Bay on Thursday. My heart hit the bottom of my chest when I read that he’d be sidelined again. It seemed so unfair that this would happen to him, of all people, after all the hard work he’d put into his recovery from last year’s injury. After scanning through the first article, I opened Instagram to see if he’d posted anything, and he didn’t disappoint.
“This leg ain’t gonna get the best of me. I promise you that. Appreciate the support and the patients. Been a crazy year plus, but hoping by fixing this last building block, that it’ll propel us back to 100%. Be back very soon! #trustme”
Reading that caption on yet another injury photo brought me back to my senior year English class, when we read Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus. My teacher explained that it was a long-winded argument for absurdism and a criticism of religion, neither of which are ideas I adhere to, but the essay remains one of my favorite pieces of literature. It describes Sisyphus’ eternal punishment: pushing the rock up the mountain, only to see it fall again. Camus uses Sisyphus’ torment to explain the power of choosing one’s own fate, of acting with dignity and purpose regardless of whatever path has already been set out for you by a higher power.
“It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me. A face that toils so close to stones is already stone itself! I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end. That hour like a breathing-space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock.”
If I were Adam Eaton, you’d never hear the end of my complaining. To be hit with major injuries two seasons in a row seems divinely cruel. But his attitude remains positive even as his ordeal continues. It meant a lot to me last year, as I tracked his progress via instagram in my small bedroom in treatment when I was allowed to have my phone, and it means a lot to me know, as I learn not to let stumbling blocks invalidate all of my growth, and I remember to call upon the resilience I’ve trained and strengthened like a muscle over the past year and a half. I certainly hope that Eaton was right when he said that his leg isn’t going to get the best of him. I await his comeback with bated breath.