In the “Epic of Gilgamesh,” Gilgamesh deals with an issue that nearly destroyed him. He sought after immortality so much that he put his own life on the edge. Centuries later, this quest unites our high tech, fast paced culture with the remote and different culture of Gilgamesh. Humanity has yet to find the secret of letting go of the idea of everlasting life. Many people today hold on to the topic of immortality because they find it so difficult to say goodbye to a loved one.
Placing flowers on graves is a popular way to remember the deceased. Even years after the person has died, the family members and friends still go to the gravesite to reminisce. People find it difficult to accept the fact that they will never see someone again. They want to believe that the person is still there. Gilgamesh had the same problem. He made the journey looking for his friend. He couldn’t deal with the fact that Enkidu had died. He wanted him to live forever.
Gilgamesh even went as far as almost sacrificing his life to find him. Gilgamesh knew that he might not be able to survive the journey, yet he did it anyway because he could not bear to say farewell to his friend. On his quest, Gilgamesh had to bargain with the gods to let him continue his journey. He had to beg them to lead him in the right direction. Many people today do the same thing. When people are sick in the hospital and they know that they do not have many days left, usually the thing that they do most is pray.
They beg God to let them make it through their surgery alive. They make deals with God; for instance, they promise that they will never smoke again if they can only get rid of their lung cancer. They plead with him to let them live. Gilgamesh had the same idea. He begged the gods to show him the way to continue his journey. The concept that most clearly unites “The Epic of Gilgamesh” and modern humanity is that immortality cannot be reached. Gilgamesh went through his entire quest, only to return with empty hands.
He strove for immortality, and even almost had it, but in the end he was back where he started. He had just wasted a little more time of his “mortal” life. Despite our advances through the centuries, humans still cannot achieve eternal life. Many teenagers, however, think that they are indestructible. They constantly take chances. Speeding, piercings, drugs, and alcohol are all things that teenagers constantly take risks with. They think, “it would never happen to me,” when in reality no one is immortal. In the end, everyone dies, no matter what.
In conclusion, Gilgamesh is just one example that shows how the quest for immortality has helped to unite all humanity. Although some people do not even believe in immortality, everyone struggles with the concept. Even something as simple as decorating the grave of a loved one is holding on to the idea that the person is still there. They believe in some minute way that the person can see them, can see the flowers, and can hear their prayers. Despite the cultural and time differences, reading “The Epic of Gilgamesh” reminds us that immortality is still central to humankind.