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Several times this column has briefly mentioned what is often called the world’s first novel, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and this month I’ll tell the story about the friendship of these two studs.
The ancient Sumerians and Akkadians created several versions, undoubtedly based on even earlier traditions. Their account of a great flood is thought to be the source of the tale of Noah in the Bible. The story of Gilgamesh was related in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and appears today in many translations and retellings, the best of which may be Gilgamesh by Stephen Mitchell.
One early scene taught me about friendship with the power of spiritual myth. I’ll explain, but first the ancient tale.
King Gilgamesh brings the arts of civilization to the city of Uruk, whose people, at first grateful, then pray for relief from his braggadocio and insistence on deflowering maidens on their wedding night. To challenge the arrogance of Gilgamesh, who thinks he has no equal, the gods create Enkidu, half-man, half–beast, in the fields. He is “tamed” by a sacred prostitute. He follows her to the city where he determines to challenge Gilgamesh.
As Mitchell summarizes, “The battle is as silly as a schoolyard fight, yet there is something beautiful about its energy [with> a deeply erotic element.”
Gilgamesh’s mother had told her son he would meet a mighty and beautiful hero whom he would take into his arms and embrace the way a man caresses his wife.
But Gilgamesh is outraged by the challenge. The two men wrestle to the point of mutual exhaustion — and respect. The opponents are able to say to each other, “I know who you are” in the most intimate way. They become the very best of friends.
After one of their adventures, a goddess seeks to seduce Gilgamesh. When he spurns her, she makes Enkidu sick. Gilgamesh, full of grief, seeing the death of the man he loves as himself, laments in a wail so powerful that it echoes through the millennia to us today.
Finally he realizes that he, too, may die, and seeks the secret of immortality from him who survived the Flood. Braving incomparable dangers, Gilgamesh follows the instructions to obtain a plant which restores youth. Before he can eat it, a serpent swallows it.
Now understanding that even he, like others, cannot escape death, he returns to Uruk, resolved to live each remaining moment fully, compassionately. Immortality can be achieved only in doing good for others.
I came to understood this story, or at least part of it, because of a transcendent experience when I was in theological school. As president of the student association, I welcomed the incoming students, one of whom was especially congenial. We quickly became pals. One evening somehow the conversation turned from our studies and rock music to how we felt about each other. We made a startling discovery: we were actually intensely competitive with each other. We heatedly enumerated our rivalry in many ways.
All of a sudden, without any forethought, we found ourselves on the floor, wrestling with each other . . . to the point of mutual exhaustion. We were thrown into a different state of consciousness. Our aggression was extinguished, our admiration heightened. When at last I was able to speak, the spontaneous word from my chest recognizing him was “Enkidu,” and he called me “Gilgamesh.” If you had entered the room and asked which of us was Vern and which Brad, neither one of us would have responded. In mythic awareness, we were Gilgamesh and Enkidu. We knew the myth from the inside.
Thirty-five years later, our letters to each other still begin with those names.
The Rev Vern Barnet, DMn., does consulting, teaching and writing for religious and educational organizations here. His Kansas City Star column appears each Wednesday. Vern can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
After the last 2 years of dealing with the pandemic and packing on those COVID pounds here are some motivational quotes that can be the spark plugs to our wellness engines. You can have a full tank of gas, a clean carburetor, all the fluids topped off, and 300 horsepower of Detroit’s finest under the hood, but you’re going nowhere without that initial spark. In your quest for well-being, you need a catalyst to move you from idle to ideal. Here are some motivational jolts to inspire you to get your health and fitness vehicle moving.
Make time for exercise each dayPhoto by Victor Freitas on Unsplash
Thomas Paine said, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” You will have conflicts with making time for exercise each day. The treadmill will conflict with your enjoyment of the living-room couch and its fluffy pillows. Your body will engage in conflict with dumbbells and exercise balls as it seeks better health. Embrace these conflicts with excitement, and walk through the smoke and fire. Triumph is waiting on the other side.
Marathon runnersPhoto by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash
John F. Kennedy said, “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” The firefighter’s 55-pound weight loss did not just happen one day on a call. The computer programmer’s success in the Chicago Marathon did not just happen on a Sunday in October. The 4th grade teacher’s significant drop in cholesterol level did not just happen the day before spring break. These people made things happen…and it took time.
Ralph Marston of The Daily Motivator website, wrote, “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” Let today be the first day in 28 years without a cigarette. Stay an extra five minutes on the recumbent bike at the gym today. Start training today for the three-day breast cancer walk that is scheduled for the fall. Tomorrow is always waiting to see what you put in your piggy bank today. Invest wisely and watch the dividends grow.
Full MoonPhoto by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
Jill McLemore once said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.” Set that goal to trim 75 pounds from your body. Only losing 42 pounds puts you way out there with the North Star. Aim to run 750 miles this year. Coming up 68 miles short will still put you past that former planet Pluto and on your way to the Orion constellation. Dropping eight waist sizes by Christmas instead of the projected 10 will let you glow with the luminescence of several brilliant wonders in the sky. By the way, I think there’s a full moon tonight!
Zig Ziglar stated, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Tom Cruise was another aspiring pretty face in Hollywood about 30 years ago before starting to audition for parts in TV shows. Jared Fogle was a morbidly obese college student at Indiana University in the 1990s before beginning his Subway diet. Mark Zuckerberg was just another starry-eyed Ivy Leaguer until he began to implement a social network idea. They all have that common bond: They started something.
These motivational quotes should help get your wellness engine running and once your car is started there’s no telling where your health and fitness can go. Don't forget to end me a postcard when you get there!
This health and fitness article is brought to you by that guy who’s sneaky like a black hole and bright like a nebula. My name is Ron Blake and I can be found playing with my telescope at email@example.com.
Curative has announced that it is currently providing COVID-19 no-cost testing in your area at Metropolitan Community College.
Stay safe and get tested!
You can schedule COVID-19 Test at curative.com, and receive results in 24-48 hours.
Curative is the leading provider of COVID-19 testing in the United States. Curative’s mission is to end the COVID-19 pandemic by providing simple-to-use and painless testing at scale to produce reliable data for patients and health officials. We know that broad access to testing, robust contact tracing, and a vaccine are necessary to end the pandemic.
Is there any cost?
Regarding the tests, there is no out of pocket cost to the individual. Through the CARES act, all individuals with health insurance will be covered for a COVID-19 test. No one is ever charged a copay or deductible.
For uninsured individuals, they are covered under the HRSA fund under the CARES act. Curative will never send a bill to any individual getting a COVID-19 test through any of our testing sites.
How soon do I get the results?
Curative provides results within 24 hours of arrival at our lab (if not sooner). We pride ourselves on our ability to distribute tests rapidly, test patients easily, and send them their results quickly. Other highlights include:
· Non-invasive cheek swab (video) that is more accurate (~90%) than a nasopharyngeal test (~80%)
· Can be self-collected under supervision by lightly-trained individuals (so no onsite medical professional required)
· Results within 24 hours of receipt at our lab
· Lab capacity to process tens of thousands of additional tests
· Manufacturing capacity to meet any order size
· Minimal PPE requirement due to the test’s self-collected method
Please visit curative.com to schedule your no-cost appointment TODAY at a site nearest to you. Together we can end this pandemic!
Curative believes that communal well-being is fundamental to individual health.
Curative is building infrastructure to make essential health services easier to access for everyone. Their infrastructure is designed to change as the world does—offering nearby access, affordable services, and science-based guidance.
Their efforts are supported by the optimism and ambition we share with communities across the US, and together we’re imagining new ways to help more people stay safe, healthy, and informed wherever they are.
“I wish I could work out, too, but I just don’t have the motivation!”
Give me a dollar for every time I’ve heard that and I’d be in Cabo San Lucas with an umbrella drink right now. Let’s identify a few of your motivations to get you on the right path. They are there … you just need to realize them so you can make it a great 2022.
How about getting healthy so you can be at that Christmas celebration in 30 years with all the family gathered around and exchanging presents? There will be nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, children and maybe some grandchildren, all enjoying the sounds and sights of the season. That would be amazing!
How about being healthy so you can watch the first man land on Mars in 2030? You hear all the talk about preparing for a mission to Mars, but it will be a long time in coming. Just think if you were alive and well to see it happen!
How about being healthy so you can attend that 60-year class reunion? It might even be nice to walk into the function with a spring in your step and a glow of health about you! Many of your classmates will have walked past St. Peter and those pearly gates by that time, but you can give yourself a chance to stay here with some proactive measures.
How about being healthy so you can spend more time being relaxed and retired? It would be awesome to just not have to do anything you didn’t want to do! Get up every day and use that watch they gave you as a fashion accessory only. With a healthy body, you can spend ample time in the lap of leisure well into your 90s.
How about being healthy so you can walk your dog with your grandkids or great-nephews after that Thanksgiving meal many years down the road? It will be so cool to have that turkey dinner with all the relatives, but it’ll be even more fun to be able to move around without having to catch your breath between steps.
How about being healthy so you can continue to enjoy vibrant sunsets, thrilling football games, colorful leaves in the fall, summer barbecues, or birthday cards in the mail?
Everyone can find the motivation to work out! You just have to identify which motivation will get you to your starting line each day and which will help you get to your daily finish line.
There are plenty of great things to enjoy in life. Find your motivation and start earning your frequent flyer miles for your healthy life. Then soar into the future with excitement about what will be!
This article of motivation is brought to you by a guy who knows a good thing when he sees it. That guy of good vision is Ron Blake, and he can be spotted on that bright horizon at firstname.lastname@example.org.