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The World on His Shoulders: Atlas

One mythical character I can definitely relate to this time a year is Atlas. He is the god who holds the world on his shoulders. All the pictures of him depict a man who looks like a body builder, the world stretching from one shoulder to the other and towering above him. I think many people can relate to his burden. My chiropractor told me last week that he sees people walking in, shoulders sagging. He believes they are physically weighed down by other people’s opinions. We don’t carry the world, but we carry the pressure of fitting in and being accepted.

May has always been a tough month for me. In school, it was the month leading into final exams. Most exams were high stakes, the ultimate determining factor summarizing my entire semester. Now, as a teacher, May has become the month of deadlines. Everything is coming to a close at a quickened pace. We power through with the promise of a relaxing summer. I can feel the weight of the world on those days.

I wonder if that is how the story of Atlas came to be. Sure, part of it came from the question, how does the world stay in the air? But, I imagine it has deeper meaning than just explaining physics. We are all Atlas at times, straining against the world. The challenge in life is to rise, lift the weight like it is nothing more than a beach ball. Or perhaps we need to toss it aside completely and just enjoy life.