For eternity, he was made to stand in a pool of water. But every time he stooped to sip, the water receded before him. Above him hung a grape vine, and every time he reached to pluck one, the vines recoiled before him. Stuck, he was, between hunger and thirst, and a voracious, unquenched desire for satiation.
Tantalus experiences not a gustatory torture, but a temporal one. We are all Tantalus. Every day, we live in the present. When we remember on the good ol’ days, we stoop towards the past, reaching for memory that, like a mirage, ever recedes before us. And the future too, our hopes and expectations above us, as we reach towards them they arrive to our grasp exactly as empty, and as hollow proportional to the juiciness we imagined.
Thus Tantalus is another example of the human condition: dropped down, halfway, as we are, between past and future, desiring eternally the one, or the other, achieving neither, until—mercifully—we achieve a fate that was precluded Tantalus: death.
“there is a marvelous in anticipation, which the future loses when it becomes the present—even if it satisfies all our expectations” #gatsby