I’m still sensing distraction. I need you to clear your mind. Clear your mind completely. Are you contented? No? You’re thinking about that boulder again, aren’t you? OK, no, that’s fine; it’s to be expected. I want you to put it down, just put it down and walk away. No need to look back; it’ll roll right back down again, I assure you. I want you to leave that highly stressful environment and instead enter one of peace and serenity. It can be whatever and wherever you like. Picture it vividly, sensually. Now describe what you see.

OK, stop. You shouldn’t even be able to see the mountain from where you are. We left that place, remember? I understand it’s a mountain and the peak remains visible from a great distance, but we’re using our imagination here. We’re not bound by topography.

Let’s explore why you feel, as you describe it, “chained” to this particular task, even though you admit it affords you little pleasure. Do you see how such behavior might prove self-defeating? It’s a prime example of what we in the field call “acting out.” And we’ve seen this before, correct? Has it not been a staple of your every sexual relationship? Persephone wished to spend half the year abroad, absorbing other cultures and customs, and this bothered you a great deal, didn’t it? Rather than confront the issue, you chose to bottle it up, to repress it. Now, these feelings can be subdued and left to simmer for a time, but eventually they will erupt, as they did when you trained all three of Cerberus’s heads to attack any poor soul toting luggage. You claimed it was a preventive measure, but, really, how many of Hades’ residents make a point of traveling?

You may not have realized your motivation at the time, but, with hindsight, we’re able to recognize this as an expression of your desperate desire to control situations, often at the expense of those closest to you. We, as mortals, must learn to accept that some things are bound to exceed our grasp, and that these things therefore must be left to God. Gods, yes, plural, excuse me. We must not force the boulder, but instead learn to let it be, to let the boulder merely be.

Very often this type of complex is rooted in a particularly affecting incident in one’s childhood, so let’s try an exercise. I want you to go back, way back, perhaps back to your formative years at the Lyceum, and describe to me what young Sisyphus is feeling. Anger, yes. Humiliation, good. Well, not good, but … continue. Why do you—why does he—feel this way? I understand this is difficult, but voicing the hurt inflicted by the cruelty of one’s peers can be very cathartic, and, remember, this is a safe, nonthreatening environment. What, exactly, did they call you?

I apologize. Awful timing, really. That was most definitely not a snicker; I choked on my saliva. Must’ve gone down the wrong pipe. Ever do that? I’m terribly sorry. But so, right, you were prone to these tantrums, these “sissy fits,” on account of being separated from your parents, which is a normal and healthy response. I think what’s important to keep in mind is that, no matter how hard you may feel you have it, things could always be much worse. Put yourself in Hermes’ winged shoes for a moment—no doubt you’re aware of his reputation as one who “gets around”—and imagine your dismay when your fellow students happen upon your Valtrex. That taunt practically wrote itself.

I’m afraid we’re out of time, though there is one final matter to discuss. You missed our last session, and, because you failed to notify the office in advance, it is our policy to bill you for it. Now, I understand these things happen, but did this “emergency” perhaps involve a rock formation of some kind?