Episode 117: The Epic of Gilgamesh (Part 2)

We’re back this week to finish out the story of Gilgamesh! We discuss grief and then journey with Gilgamesh to the land of the dead, which features She-Ra references, befriending crows, and the ending to Little Shop of Horrors. We also remind you: Choose joy.

Eric’s recommendation this week is the His Dark Materials series.


-Calm, the #1 app for meditation, mindfulness, and sleep. Get 25% off a Premium subscription at calm.com/spirits

- Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service that finds and delivers clothes, shoes, and accessories to fit your body, budget, and lifestyle. Get started at stitchfix.com/spirits for 25% off when you keep your whole box!

Find Us Online

If you like Spirits, help us grow by spreading the word! Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, & Goodreads. You can support us on Patreon to unlock bonus Your Urban Legends episodes, director’s commentaries, custom recipe cards, and so much more.


Julia:                     Welcome to Spirits Podcast, a boozy dive into mythology, legends and folklore. Every week we pour a drink and learn about a new story from around the world. I'm Julia, not Amanda.

Eric:                       And I'm Eric, because Amanda is currently traveling and unable to do the intro this week.

Julia:                     Huzzah. This is episode 117, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Part Two.

Eric:                       This episode is very, very good. It is the conclusion to the Gilgamesh story. It is I think our first full, true two-parter. Is that right?

Julia:                     We did the Norse mythology one, which I always wanna redo at some point. But yes, it is our second two-parter, and it's been two years since we did another one.

Eric:                       Yeah. It is a blast. It was a lot of fun.

Julia:                     It is a lot of fun. I think it really fulfills the premise of Spirits that we started with, which is we get drunk and talk about death a lot.

Eric:                       Pretty much. Pretty much. Also, to be clear, Amanda is on the episode. I'm just doing the intro.

Julia:                     Yes, that is true. Amanda is here. Wait for her. You'll hear her voice. Do you know who else we would love to talk about death and have some drinks with, Eric?

Eric:                       Who?

Julia:                     That would be our new patrons. Welcome new conspirators James, Christopher, Thelonia, Alana, Skylar, Emily, Hannah, Anna and Melanie. They joined the ranks of our incredible supporting producer level patrons Phillip, Julie, Eeyore, Kathy, Vinnie, Danika, Marissa, Sammy, Josie, Neal, Jessica, Phil Fresh and Deborah.

Eric:                       You are all the trees of fruit jewels in our hearts.

Julia:                     That's true.

Eric:                       That'll make sense later, obviously.

Julia:                     Yes. We think-

Eric:                       Hopefully.

Julia:                     Hopefully. We think our legend level patrons can cross the river of death at any time. They are Aylah, Jess, Sarah, Sandra, Audra, Mercedes, Jack Murray and Leanne.

Eric:                       Julia, what did you and Amanda drink while recording this episode?

Julia:                     Excellent question, Eric. Thank you. I made a drink for this episode, which is a twist on a corpse reviver, which is a cocktail that uses gin and absinthe, and is pretty perfect for this story since we're talking about death a lot.

Eric:                       Oh my gosh, yeah. That sounds perfect for this.

Julia:                     Yeah. It's gonna be a lot of fun. If you are one of our recipe card level patrons, you will get a recipe for this drink so you can make it while you listen.

Eric:                       I am excited to check that out.

Julia:                     I'm excited to hear if you have a recommendation this week, Eric.

Eric:                       My recommendation is the book series, His Dark Materials, which I am currently on the third book, The Amber Spyglass, which in this episode Amanda talks a bit about. I was very, very worried that it was going to contain spoilers, but had to keep listening because I had to edit it. I was like, "Oh, no. Oh, no." It's very vague stuff so there's no true spoilers in this, but it's my girlfriend's favorite book series growing up. She's reading them along with me. We're both on the third book, and it's very, very good. They are making a TV show on one of the premium cable channels that I think is coming out later this year, so now is a perfect time to pick up the books. Read them. They are aimed at children, so they're very easy reads. They're very good.

Julia:                     I think Lin Manuel Miranda is supposed to be in the TV show.

Eric:                       Yes. Lin is in the TV show. He's playing Lee Scoresby, the Texan aeronaut.

Julia:                     I'm so ready for that.

Eric:                       Which is gonna be a performance.

Julia:                     I'm very excited to see it. I'm sure it's gonna be fantastic. We're also sponsored this week by Calm. If you go to calm.com/spirits, you can get 25% off a premium subscription. We'll tell you a little bit more about that while we get our refill. We're also sponsored by Stitch Fix. Stitchfix.com/spirits. You get 25% off when you keep your whole box. Thank you so much for everyone who came out to our live show in Portland at the Listen Up Festival. It was fantastic. If you weren't able to make it, next week's episode might interest you just a little bit.

Eric:                       Very exciting. It was a blast. Portland was phenomenal. Thank you to the entire city of Portland, and to the Listen Up Festival for having us. They treated us so, so well.

Julia:                     So well.

Eric:                       Yeah. It was just a blast to be there, and part of the festival.

Julia:                     Yes. It was fantastic. I wanna visit Portland immediately now. I wanna go back next weekend. I think that's it, so without further ado, let's get started with episode 117, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Part Two. Hey, what's up? We are back with our boy, Gilgamesh, and his kind of boyfriend/bestie/companion, Enkidu. What's up, Amanda?

Amanda:              What's up, nerds? It's Gilgamesh.

Julia:                     What's up, nerds? It's Gilgamesh. That's my best Mike Schubes impression.

Amanda:              Listen to Horse. It's such a good podcast.

Julia:                     Actually, this time around I managed to find us a new translation. At the end of the last one I requested finding a woman or femme-aligned translator, and I did. Her name is Maureen Gallery Kovacs.

Amanda:              Cool.

Julia:                     You can google if you wanna check out a little bit more about her. Here we go. Last time we left off, Inanna had gotten super pissed about Gilgamesh turning down her advances, so she convinced her father Anu to loan her the Bull of Heaven to wreak havoc on the city of Uruk, which Gilgamesh is the king of. Gilgamesh and Enkidu team up. They kill the Bull of Heaven, and Enkidu basically tells Inanna to fuck off by throwing the bull's hindquarters, AKA the butt, at her.

Amanda:              Through the butt. Some hot flaming butt.

Julia:                     The whole city celebrates about not getting completely destroyed with a huge feast and whatnot, but Enkidu is left with a dream that night about his future. We start with the seventh tablet describing Enkidu's dream.

Amanda:              All right, lay it on me. I bet it's gonna be not good.

Julia:                     Well, listen. If you are ever in a myth, and you have a dream about how you're gonna die or something, maybe just take a few days, stay indoors, play it safe. I don't know. It's just a suggestion.

Amanda:              Yeah, I definitely would do that.

Julia:                     The seventh tablet basically explains what Enkidu saw in his dream. In the dream, the gods had decided that either Gilgamesh or Enkidu was going to have to die as punishment for killing the forest guardian Humbaba.

Amanda:              I mean fair enough.

Julia:                     Which I also said, which obviously the gods were pissed about. These were demigods and servants to the gods, which if they're demigods, they're probably the offspring of some of these gods themselves.

Amanda:              It's worse than if it was a human.

Julia:                     Yeah, it's real bad. I really don't blame them for wanting revenge at all. The gods debate as to who is going to be the one that gets killed. Enkidu is marked by the gods for death, as they decide whoever cut down the tallest tree in the cedar forest ... If you remember, that is the land of the gods, the cedar forest. Whoever cut down the tallest tree in the cedar forest would have to die, and it's being Enkidu.

Amanda:              Side note. Shamash, who we talked about, a sun god.

Julia:                     Shamash is out there trying to defend Enkidu and change their minds, probably because he's the one who was most invested in civilizing Enkidu. He's the one who sent Shamhat to him, and because Enkidu has given him all these honorable sacrifices he actually also goes so far as to claim that the two men actually killed the Bull of Heaven and Humbaba on his orders, which is not true.

Amanda:              Oh, wow.

Julia:                     He's just straight up lying to the other gods.

Amanda:              That's a big leap to take on their behalf.

Julia:                     Enkidu still in the dream, overhearing all of this. He curses the door that he made for Enlil's temple in the last tablet. It's basically the gate to his temple, so it's a big thing. It's also he made it with the tallest tree that he cut down, which marked him for death.

Amanda:              Yep. Nope, looks like a target. Yep.

Julia:                     Tried to help, and then Enlil just turns on you. It's not good. While he is on this cursing kick he also curses Shamhat for removing him from the wild, and the trapper that found him in the forest in the first place for alerting the gods to his existence. Shamash shows up in the dream, and basically tells him to calm the fuck down and be grateful. Shamhat, for instance, is how Shamash was able to clothe and feed Enkidu. The trapper introduced the gods to Enkidu. He basically accuses Enkidu of being a child. You know when a parent makes a really good point and you wanna be mad at them, but you're like damn, that is a good point? That's basically what's happening here.

Amanda:              How would you shut down that argument when you were a kid? I think I would just go, "I have to study," and close my door.

Julia:                     Yeah. I was very much a go quiet and then just huff child.

Amanda:              Yeah, makes sense.

Julia:                     Shamash also is the bearer of bad news, and is like, "Yeah, okay, so you're gonna die. The gods have decreed it. But good news, Gilgamesh is gonna bestow all of these great honors at your funeral."

Amanda:              I mean that doesn't help.

Julia:                     No, not right now. But also Gilgamesh, according to Shamash, is going to build a statue in Enkidu's honor, is gonna have all the people in Uruk worship it, and because we know from the Inanna story that mourning and grief are super important to the Sumerians, Shamash is assuring Enkidu that Gilgamesh is going to really honor him. He says that Gilgamesh is going to wander the wild, consumed with his grief, so basically giving up his role as king in making sure that Enkidu gets a proper sendoff to the underworld.

Amanda:              Wow. I mean in a sad way it accomplishes the purpose that Enkidu was made for.

Julia:                     He's humbling Gilgamesh, which sucks that he has to die in order to do that, but it is achieving the goal that the people wanted. Enkidu is actually really surprised by all of this information. He takes back everything he said. He starts regretting all the cursing and the tantrum that he threw. He doesn't take away the curses on the other two things, but he takes away the curse on Shamhat and actually blesses her instead, which is real nice.

Amanda:              Yeah.

Julia:                     She deserves it. She did a lot for him.

Amanda:              She is.

Julia:                     The dream shifts, and then in a new dream things get a lot worse.

Amanda:              Oh, no.

Julia:                     He is attacked by a lion-headed eagle, which overpowers him. In the dream, Enkidu tries to call out to Gilgamesh for help, but Gilgamesh is too afraid to help him. The lion-headed eagle then transforms Enkidu into a dove, and Enkidu finds himself captive in Kur, which is the Sumerian underworld.

Amanda:              A conspirator recently claimed the twitter handle eagle husband, and I just wanna suggest maybe consider lion-headed eagle husband as your twitter handle. That sounds pretty good to me.

Julia:                     If you need a good, new variation, I agree. It's very good. The Sumerian underworld is, in a word, very interesting. It is described as a house of dust, and there is no light. The dead sit in the darkness, and there is no food or water, but they instead eat clay and drink dirt.

Amanda:              Oh, man. Yikes.

Julia:                     Everyone is dressed in bird feathers, because in the afterlife all people are brought equal by death. Great rulers of the earth are servants to gods. Even in the West we call death the great equalizer, you know what I mean? That's very much true of the Mesopotamian/Sumerian/Babylonian afterlife that we're describing here.

Amanda:              It also reminds me of the third book in The Golden Compass trilogy, which takes place largely in an afterlife type scenario. It is very gray, very dusty, very filled with ashes. I really like that imagery. It's terrifying, all the quiet, because I'm just like, "Oh, no." Wow, that's a scary dream.

Julia:                     I know that's one of your favorite childhood book series.

Amanda:              Yeah.

Julia:                     Never read them as a kid.

Amanda:              That's okay. They're great. You're remind me of Lyra so much.

Julia:                     I've seen the movie enough to know that's a real nice thing you just said about me.

Amanda:              She is wonderful. She reminds me of you a ton. Also, we have a friend whose baby is named Lyra, which I think is amazing.

Julia:                     Oh my god, very good.

Amanda:              Yes. I highly recommend it. They're good vacation reading if you need something.

Julia:                     So it is in this place, this afterlife, that Enkidu finds himself until he finally wakes up from these dreams.

Amanda:              How long does he spend down there? Or it's a normal nightmare dream, and it just takes a long time as he's experiencing it.

Julia:                     The latter.

Amanda:              Okay.

Julia:                     The next day, he tells Gilgamesh about these dreams that he had. He begs his friend to make sure. You have to remember me. You have to remember all of the things we've gone through together, all the time that we've spent. The tablet says it multiple times. You have to remember me. You have to remember me. Memory is such an important thing here. Gilgamesh is genuinely scared by Enkidu's dream. What makes matters worse is that after Enkidu finishes telling Gilgamesh about these dreams, he becomes extremely sick.

Amanda:              No.

Julia:                     He lasts 12 days, only getting worse and worse as he lays there. There's no methods to revive him.

Amanda:              Oh, man.

Julia:                     On the 12th day Enkidu cries out to Gilgamesh, accusing the king of abandoning him in his time of need. He laments that he did not die a heroic death in battle, but rather on a sickbed, and then finally he passes.

Amanda:              Wow. That's worse than he deserved.

Julia:                     Gilgamesh clings to his friend's body, promising to remember him, refusing to believe that Enkidu is actually dead or leave his body. The line is very specific, until a maggot drops out of the nose of Enkidu's corpse.

Amanda:              Oh, boy.

Julia:                     Which is bleak as hell.

Amanda:              Yeah, and I mean so poetic. I can't imagine the gorgeousness of this prose.

Julia:                     Yeah. That's probably one of the most infamous lines, besides the beginning and closing of the tablets, is this line about the maggot dropping out of his nose. It's a gross image, but it is reminding us of the physical mortality of human beings, which is basically what the rest of this story is about.

Amanda:              Wow, and yeah, grief is a strong force. I like that image in particular because obviously it's saying it gets so unpleasant, and yet your force of your bond, your love, your devotion overcomes the normal boundary. Like you said, a little bit gross, but super powerful.

Julia:                     We tend to joke about how Spirits is just like hey, let's get drunk and talk about death, but this is literally what's gonna happen in this episode.

Amanda:              Let's do it.

Julia:                     We start off on tablet eight with Gilgamesh lamenting and mourning over the body of Enkidu. He spends a decent chunk at the beginning of this talking about listing off calling upon plants, animals, cities, places on Earth and people in general to mourn for Enkidu. The tablet spends a lot of time as well talking about Gilgamesh's grief. He at times directs his comments both to the men of Uruk who have gathered to watch him mourn, and to Enkidu's body directly. At one point, Gilgamesh touches Enkidu's chest but feels that Enkidu's heart is no longer beating. It's a very, very touching moment. He ends up covering his friend's body with a shroud, and stands guard over it for the rest of the night. In the morning he tears his clothes, discards his jewelry, and cuts his hair as a sign of mourning.

Amanda:              Wow.

Julia:                     Like Shamash said, Gilgamesh commissions a statue of Enkidu for his funeral, and showers the grave with gifts from the city's treasury so that Enkidu will have a favorable reception into the afterlife.

Amanda:              It's interesting. Did the dream create the reality, or vice versa?

Julia:                     Oh, yeah. That's a real philosophical question. I feel like in this situation, it's very much the gods were indicating to him what was gonna go down. They were just like, "Hey, fair warning." Gilgamesh even goes so far as to throw a great banquet in Enkidu's honor, and offers treasures up to the gods. At this point, there is actually damage in the tablet, which is ... We're gonna talk-

Amanda:              No.

Julia:                     There's a lot of that, actually, in the back half of this. There's a break in the text. Scholars believe that the missing section probably outlined exactly what happened at Enkidu's funeral. Some of the texts surrounding the missing section suggests that the Euphrates was actually dammed, meaning that Gilgamesh perhaps had Enkidu buried in the riverbed.

Amanda:              Wow.

Julia:                     Yeah, literally changing the course of the river in order to honor his friend and give him a proper burial.

Amanda:              That's so powerful, man. Talk about a sign of remembrance, being able to look at the mighty river that powers your whole civilization, and that's where your friend has been interred.

Julia:                     When the tablet picks up again, Gilgamesh is speaking to Enkidu, though obviously Enkidu is still dead. He tells his friend about the grand statue that he has made for him, and that his people would worship him and the statue. Gilgamesh then makes an offering to the god Shamash, but for what reason and for what end is lost because, again, the section after that is damaged as well. Given the context of the next tablet, it seems as though Gilgamesh chooses to start his journey off because Shamash suggested it. He is going to wander the wilderness as part of his mourning for Enkidu.

Amanda:              This is a time where the repetition of storytelling or poetics would be very helpful. Okay, that stanza is damaged, but I'm pretty sure we're repeating a refrain that happened earlier.

Julia:                     Yeah. It's like oh, well he's off in the wilderness. We're like how, when, why?

Amanda:              That's the experience of reading Walt Whitman where you're like you have Leaves of Grass, where you have a collected edition of the poetry, and you can actually flip from page to page. It's like is this one long list of the noble professions of man? Is it a different poem than this previous long list of the noble professions of man? It's very funny.

Julia:                     It's a little early, but I think that we're probably going to need a refill before we start wandering the wilderness with Gilgamesh.

Amanda:              Oh, hell yeah. Let's do it.

Julia:                     So Eric, hi, you're welcome back.

Eric:                       Welcome back. Welcome back to me.

Julia:                     We just got back from our trip to Portland for the Listen Up Festival. Amanda is still traveling while we record this. I am not very good at sleeping in places that aren't my bed. I never get a good night's sleep when I'm out of my own bed. I'm sure you can relate to that.

Eric:                       I can, yes. It's always nice to be at home.

Julia:                     Yeah. I get stressed. I get anxious. I lay in bed and just cannot get to sleep. But I was really lucky because this time around, for this trip, I used Calm. Calm is the number one app for sleep, meditation and relaxation. It gives you the tools you need for a happier, healthier and more mindful life. I was rocking the calm sleep stories the entire trip that we were in Portland. It was so easy. They had these guided meditations that help with issues like anxiety, stress, focus and relationships. Then they also have the daily calm, which you can start your morning off with a little mindful meditation, which is a great way to start your morning off, especially when you are super jet lagged in a city you don't know.

Eric:                       It's a very, very good idea.

Julia:                     Like I said, their sleep stories are wonderful. They're basically bedtime stories for grownups. Just enough calm storytelling to let your mind wander as you fall asleep. It is absolutely lovely. So for a limited time, Spirits listeners can get 25% off a Calm premium subscription at calm.com/spirits. This includes unlimited access to all of Calm's amazing content. You can get started today by going to calm.com/spirits.

Eric:                       Calm.com/spirits.

Julia:                     Eric said it better because he doesn't have my accent. C-A-L-M.com/spirits. Thanks, Calm.

Eric:                       Julia, I would like to tell you about some fashion.

Julia:                     Tell me about fashion.

Eric:                       As I said, we were in Portland doing live shows. So before I went, what did I pack in my bag but multiple shirts that I got from Stitch Fix.

Julia:                     God, I love Stitch Fix.

Eric:                       Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service that finds and delivers you clothes, shoes and accessories that fit your body, budget, and lifestyle. Let me tell you, on my second time around with Stitch Fix I said, "I want to be bold and brave. Send me some shirts with florals."

Julia:                     Go.

Eric:                       Because I can never find them in stores, and they sent me the shirt that I wore to the Spirits live show. It's a blue short sleeve button up that just has these very earth-tone flowers on it, and it looks great with pretty much any pair of pants. It's hands down my favorite shirt I've ever owned. I love it.

Julia:                     It was a very good shirt. It was very good.

Eric:                       You can go to stitchfix.com/spirits, and tell them your sizes, what you want, and they will hook you up with a personal stylist who will handpick five items to you. It gets sent straight to your home.

Julia:                     Clearly, they listen to what you like, because you got that dope floral shirt and you rocked it.

Eric:                       If there's something you don't love in your box, you can ship those items back to them. Exchanges and returns are always free. There's no subscription either, so you can just request a box whenever you're needing some new clothes, which is perfect. It's about to become spring, so maybe you wanna freshen up that wardrobe now that winter's kind of ending, and get some new clothes.

Julia:                     You can get started now at stitchfix.com/spirits, where you'll get 25% when you keep all five items in your box. Trust me, it will surprise you how often you love all five items in your box.

Eric:                       Yes. It is phenomenal. If you go to stitchfix.com/spirits, you'll get 25% off when you keep all five items in your box as well.

Julia:                     Yep, so that is stitchfix.com/spirits. You can get started today. Stitchfix.com/spirits.

Eric:                       Thanks, Stitch Fix. Now let's get back to the show.

Julia:                     So by the beginning of tablet nine, Gilgamesh is out there doing his wandering. He's all alone. He's wearing animal skins. Specifically, they mention that he's wearing a lion's skin. Still lamenting the death of Enkidu, but apparently enough time has passed that his mourning has a slightly different tone to it.

Amanda:              Okay.

Julia:                     Rather than being upset with Enkidu being dead really, he's beginning to become worried that oh, shit, if Enkidu died that means I might die someday. Gilgamesh for the first time is reckoning with his own mortality.

Amanda:              Oh, shit.

Julia:                     Enkidu's death has made the reality of that so much more obvious to him than it ever has been before, which really you can't blame him. He's two thirds god. He's probably never had to think about this before.

Amanda:              Yeah. I don't know why I'm surprised that this epic work of human literature deals with epic themes of human lives, but talk about it. This is really what it is, huh?

Julia:                     Wild, right?

Amanda:              Man, oh man. Oh, boy. Okay. I'm gonna marinate on all my reactions, because I really wanna know what happens.

Julia:                     We're gonna talk about death later. It's all good. Gilgamesh is now suddenly scared of a thing that he never realized he might have to face himself, death. He decides to seek out a man that he's heard stories about, Utnapishtim, or the far away, which Utnapishtim translates directly to the far away.

Amanda:              Oh, boy.

Julia:                     He decides he's going to seek him out so that he can learn the secret to eternal life.

Amanda:              I would just like to point out that I got a notification, and it's Schneider sending me video of Arnie walking.

Julia:                     I love him so much.

Amanda:              I picked up my phone to make a note about the death that I wanna talk about, and my prophecy came true of Eric sending me a snap.

Julia:                     Cool. There you go. Why would Utnapishtim know about the secret to eternal life?

Amanda:              Maybe because he's a solitary person living in the woods, and when you do that apparently you gain all the knowledge in the world?

Julia:                     Well, no. Incorrect.

Amanda:              Damn.

Julia:                     He and his wife were one of the few survivors of the great flood. Yes, that great flood. The one you're thinking of. The one we've done episodes on before. As such, they were the only humans to be granted immortality by the gods.

Amanda:              Oh, damn.

Julia:                     So with new purpose, Gilgamesh sets out on his task to find this man. The first night, though, Gilgamesh is plagued by nightmares. Of course, he is. The tablet doesn't go into much detail as to what happens in these nightmares, but Gilgamesh wakes up undeterred, which is probably a bad idea. We know dreams are super important in Sumerian mythology, and this story in particular, so maybe don't ignore the very bad nightmares you have.

Amanda:              Maybe they're there for a reason, bud. Maybe you just lived out your own prophecy. You're right now living out the dream that was given to you. Oh, boy.

Julia:                     Gilgamesh travels very far east to the twin mountain peaks of Mashu. Mashu is so far east that it's where the sun rises every day, according to the Babylonians and the Sumerians. He arrives at the mountain, and he comes across a tunnel that is guarded by two scorpion beings. Part scorpion, part human. Pretty straight forward.

Amanda:              No, no. What are the configurations of the parts?

Julia:                     They didn't specify.

Amanda:              Dodged a bullet. Okay.

Julia:                     I imagine, though, it's like Scorpia from She-Ra.

Amanda:              I don't know that series yet because you haven't sat me down to watch it. I apologize.

Julia:                     Scorpia looks like you.

Amanda:              Oh, yes. This is the person we've talked about. Okay.

Julia:                     Yes. Yeah. Yeah, with the short hair with a gray fade.

Amanda:              Oh, no. She's fucking built. I love her.

Julia:                     Yeah. She's great. She's a tough girl. I love her. Okay, so they are rightfully scared of Gilgamesh. The scorpions very scared of Gilgamesh.

Amanda:              What size are they? Human-size?

Julia:                     They're human-sized, yeah.

Amanda:              Okay. All right.

Julia:                     Gilgamesh is scared of them. They're scared of Gilgamesh. It's not every day that you run into a scorpion being, but it's also not every day that two thirds of a god comes to hang out with you.

Amanda:              Oh, yeah.

Julia:                     Gilgamesh knows his friend is dead. He needs to confront death and gain eternal life, so he powers on. Marches up to these creatures. The one scorpion being thinks that Gilgamesh for a second is a full god, and becomes frightened. His wife, the other scorpion guard ... Which is true, the translation uses feminine pronouns for the other-

Amanda:              Very good.

Julia:                     ... scorpion guard. Calms her husband down by saying that clearly Gilgamesh is not all god. Only two thirds. Gilgamesh speaks to them, informing them that he is here to speak to Utnapishtim. We also find out at this point in the tablet that Utnapishtim is Gilgamesh's ancestor, and Gilgamesh announces that he needs to speak to him in order to learn the mysteries of life and death.

Amanda:              Naturally.

Julia:                     The scorpion beings tell him that no mortal man is allowed to visit Utnapishtim, but Gilgamesh is persistent, and also scary, as we established.

Amanda:              Also, two thirds deity.

Julia:                     Exactly. The scorpions yield. The one male guard tells Gilgamesh that in order to reach Utnapishtim, he must travel through the tunnel that they're guarding. What the scorpion fails to tell Gilgamesh, which he realizes later, is that he is suddenly in a race against time. The trip up the mountain that he needs to take is along the same path that the sun will take when it rises in the morning, and so if he doesn't cover the entire journey before the sun rises, the sun will burn him to a crisp.

Amanda:              Yep. Saw that one coming.

Julia:                     So as soon as he realizes it, Gilgamesh books it up the mountain. Of course, because it's much more dramatic when you do it this way, he manages to make it to safety at the very last minute as the sun is cresting over the edge.

Amanda:              Like Dwayne the Rock Johnson hanging off the ledge of a skyscraper with one pinky finger. He makes it just in time.

Julia:                     In the movie Skyscraper. Gotcha.

Amanda:              Yep.

Julia:                     I almost forgot the name of that, and I was like, "What's the most obvious name?" Skyscraper, that's it.

Amanda:              You got it. Listen, the marketing worked. Say what you will, but you remember the title of the movie.

Julia:                     Gilgamesh arrives at the top of the mountain, and he discovers the garden of the gods, which isn't just a garden, but a garden where every plant, rather than producing fruit and leaves, is laden with heavy jewels.

Amanda:              I really thought you were gonna say babies, and I got really nervous.

Julia:                     No, only good things.

Amanda:              Okay.

Julia:                     No babies.

Amanda:              Okay. I mean babies are good, whatever, but I was picturing a mandrake situation with a dirt-caked, mad head. Okay, we're good. We're good. Jewels.

Julia:                     You were just picturing a world where babies are delivered by storks, but they're also pulled out of the ground and then placed in their little baskets before the storks take them.

Amanda:              Like a little turnip.

Julia:                     Yes, very cute. I'm into it.

Amanda:              But instead we got jewels, which is also a good gift to get from a bird.

Julia:                     Birds, bring me more jewels.

Amanda:              Listen, I'm just saying. You land on my air conditioner and poop all the time, so just leave me a jewel every now and again.

Julia:                     We just need to befriend some crows. That's all I'm saying.

Amanda:              Every time I look at a crow I'm like, "You know what's up."

Julia:                     I should give you things so you'll bring me things.

Amanda:              You make a weird noise when you're startled. Same. You like to lurk. You make people nervous. Same. You just like to collect pretty things, and hang out in spots where you can see a lot of stuff. What is there not to love?

Julia:                     If there's multiple in a group, then you can tell the future.

Amanda:              Any conspirators with bird pets, please tweet us photos ASAP.

Julia:                     Please, if you've befriended some ravens or some crows, let us know.

Amanda:              Oh, yeah. If you have some birb pals, even those who just hang up by your car or your backyard some time, I wanna see them.

Julia:                     I have my family of bluejays that live in my backyard.

Amanda:              Yeah, you do.

Julia:                     They're my friends. I love them.

Amanda:              So cute.

Julia:                     Okay, in the garden of the gods.

Amanda:              Yes.

Julia:                     Back on track.

Amanda:              No babies. Lots of jewels.

Julia:                     Gilgamesh comes across a tavern and meets an alewife named Siduri.

Amanda:              Alewife of the gods?

Julia:                     Siduri is not super excited about the appearance of Gilgamesh. She immediately thinks that he is a murderer or a thief because of his appearance.

Amanda:              I mean, sure.

Julia:                     All of his mourning and travel has made him look pretty disheveled, so naturally.

Amanda:              Also, see lion skin.

Julia:                     Also, only in a lion skin. Just not looking great.

Amanda:              No.

Julia:                     She bolts the tavern door against him, and this pisses Gilgamesh off. He starts yelling and threatening her, dropping the fact that he's killed Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven. Meanwhile, Siduri is like, "Well, this is bullshit. Look at you."

Amanda:              I've thrown a butt. Let me in.

Julia:                     To be fair, Enkidu threw the butt. Gilgamesh was just there.

Amanda:              I've seen a butt thrown. Let me in.

Julia:                     I've seen a butt thrown at a goddess. I have many tales to tell.

Amanda:              I don't know why it's never occurred to me that there would be taverns in heaven, but I'm super into that now.

Julia:                     Yeah. No, it makes sense. My heaven has taverns. Can confirm.

Amanda:              Most definitely.

Julia:                     He looks like a mess, not like a hero that's out slaying monsters and demigods. But Gilgamesh, trying to win her over, tells her the whole story. Enkidu's death, how he mourned, refused to allow Enkidu's body to be buried because he would not believe that he was dead. He finishes the story almost pitifully, asking Siduri if one day he too would have to die. Siduri answers him, though the answer depends very much on the translation that you're reading. But in the one that we're referencing today, basically she tells Gilgamesh not to worry about death so much because humans will never achieve immortality. The gods simply won't let them, which reminds me very much of our Mayan creation story episode.

Amanda:              Oh, yeah.

Julia:                     So instead, Siduri tells him that they have to make the most out of the time they have on Earth. Make every day a party, she tells Gilgamesh. Be good to your wife and children. That's what life is about, not wondering about what happens after or when it's going to end.

Amanda:              Wow. That sounds like a much better version of Polonius' advice to his son.

Julia:                     I like that. That's very good.

Amanda:              Who cares about lending money to friends? Clearly, Shakespeare did. I don't. But that is some advice that really matters, and that's profound. Wow.

Julia:                     It's pretty sound logic, honestly. You're like yeah, don't worry about that so much. You gotta live every day.

Amanda:              We talked about this with me using my vinegars and my nice wines.

Julia:                     Yes, we did.

Amanda:              We totally did, only Sumerians got it better and more poetic than me thousands of years ago.

Julia:                     They did, but also Gilgamesh is not having any of this. He's just like-

Amanda:              Oh, yeah. No, he wants answers now.

Julia:                     Yeah, he's like, "I demand you tell me where I can find Utnapishtim," and Siduri is like, "You know what? Fine, get out of here."

Amanda:              We've been talking for four hours.

Julia:                     You've told me your story. It took four hours. Please, sir, leave my bar.

Amanda:              You've bought nothing.

Julia:                     She says that if she wants to find the far away, he has to cross the waters of death, and that if he wants to do that he should talk to Urshanabi, the ferryman.

Amanda:              He should take two coins, because he needs one for the way out.

Julia:                     The ferryman Urshanabi has these stone charms that surrounded his boat. Gilgamesh gets to the boat using the directions that he got from Siduri, and when he gets to the boat the ferryman's not there. Gilgamesh being Gilgamesh is like ... Gets thrown into a rage, and destroys all of these stone charms.

Amanda:              No. What do you mean by charms, just stones imbued with magic?

Julia:                     Yeah. The translation is really not specific. It literally refers to them as stone things, and there's different thoughts on what it could be. They thought they could be lodestones, which are ... Help give direction in this time period. They could just be charms where they're just-

Amanda:              Yeah.

Julia:                     Yeah, just supposed to keep you safe as you cross the river or something like that.

Amanda:              Makes sense.

Julia:                     Or it's just he just had a bunch of cool stones that he really liked. I don't know.

Amanda:              Yeah. Made his little area look good.

Julia:                     Urshanabi comes back after hearing the commotion, because he was out gathering mint in the nearby forest. There is a little bit of damage again to the text here, but basically what we can deduce is that the conversation was basically like, "What the fuck, dude? Why'd you kill my stones?"

Amanda:              I bet.

Julia:                     What's going on? Gilgamesh recounts his tale to the ferryman. It's the repetition of the poetry again where he keeps telling the same story over and over again.

Amanda:              I like it because people in the audience are like okay, yep, nope, I get it, okay.

Julia:                     He asks the ferryman to transport him across the waters of death. I imagine in this moment that Urshanabi is pretty deadpan when he informs Gilgamesh that he would love to take him across the waters, but Gilgamesh destroyed his stone charms that would keep them safe.

Amanda:              There it is.

Julia:                     Well, you destroyed the magic that helps me get across the water, and now we're both fucked. But if that was the end of the story this wouldn't be anything, so Urshanabi suggests a backup plan. He sends Gilgamesh into the woods, telling him to cut 300 punting poles, which are those poles that ferrymen use to drag the boats across the river using the bottom as leverage. Gilgamesh does that because he's Gilgamesh, and he's just like, "Yeah, all right. Let's do it. Hard labor? I got you."

Amanda:              Don't worry about it. I'm wearing a lion skin. I can do anything.

Julia:                     They get on the boat after he has cut all of these punting poles. Urshanabi tells him that once he is done using a punting pole to push off the bottom, and using it to the full extent that he possibly can, he needed to toss it away, because if he got the waters of death on him he would die.

Amanda:              Oh, boy. That makes a lot of sense, and is very cool.

Julia:                     But the problem is, Amanda, they didn't make it more than halfway before they realized they didn't have enough punting poles.

Amanda:              No. What are they gonna do?

Julia:                     Gilgamesh is like, "No, fuck this," so he takes off his lion cloak and he holds it up as a sail. They start just cruising across the water.

Amanda:              That seems much easier.

Julia:                     It does. At this point, Utnapishtim is on the other shore, confused as to why Urshanabi is heading his way, and also why someone besides the ferryman is the one sailing the boat.

Amanda:              I would be too.

Julia:                     The two arrive on Utnapishtim's shores, and we get another recounting of the whole situation with Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Same story over and over again. Utnapishtim gives a long speech to Gilgamesh, which of course is not well-preserved, so we're missing big chunks of it. But basically he tells Gilgamesh, "Yo, dude. You gotta count your blessings. You were born a rich and powerful king. You should be grateful for the lot that you have in life, and also that it's the will of the gods for humans to die." It's not that it's an uncertainty as to if a person will die. It's the uncertainty as to when the person will die.

Amanda:              Right. We're all in this together, except for the gods, in that it's gonna happen to everybody.

Julia:                     Also, except for Utnapishtim, because he is immortal. So by tablet 11, Gilgamesh-

Amanda:              He was like, "There was a great flood. Don't worry about it. I deserve this. Let me have this one thing."

Julia:                     I struggled so much when I was your age. I had to-

Amanda:              I walked through five cow fields to get to school, uphill both ways.

Julia:                     Up the Euphrates River both ways. By tablet 11, Gilgamesh is pissed. He demands to know Utnapishtim's story, because he doesn't believe that he's immortal, because he's just like a normal human being. That doesn't compute in his brain. To make a long story short, because it is a long story. Half of the 11th tablet is just Utnapishtim telling the story of the great flood.

Amanda:              Wow.

Julia:                     Utnapishtim lived in a city when the gods decided to destroy the world with a flood. The why is never really specified. Luckily for the humans, Ea, who is the trickster god, told people living in a house of reeds that they should tear down their house and build a boat. Utnapishtim didn't need to be told twice, because he was the man living in that house of reeds. He basically becomes Noah. Anyone who is familiar with the great flood story probably knows the story of Noah and the ark. Utnapishtim is the Sumerian, and Babylonian and Mesopotamian version of that.

Amanda:              I guess Noah is the Christian version of this figure.

Julia:                     Yes, probably. They are all cut from the same cloth, basically.

Amanda:              Yeah, but in terms of stories we grew up with, this would be our corollary.

Julia:                     Yes. Utnapishtim builds a huge raft/ship, puts his family and a bunch of animals on the raft, and the craftsmen that helped him build the ship. Very nice of him. Thank you.

Amanda:              Very smart.

Julia:                     Especially because you need to rebuild society once the flood waters recede.

Amanda:              Oh, yeah. You need a midwife, a carpenter, a healer of some sort, cook and a teacher.

Julia:                     I feel like midwife and healer could fall under the same category.

Amanda:              Yes, that's true. That's true. Yeah, this is an okay scenario for the Canadian urban legend of the dentist pilot. This is allowed. This is allowed. If there's a great flood that destroys the world, you are allowed to have multiple all-encompassing professions. I allow it.

Julia:                     All right. Good. All right, cool. The dentist pilot. I'm still not over it. Okay.

Amanda:              I'm so sorry that he died, but also the fact of it is wild.

Julia:                     So for six days and seven nights, the flood remained. It hits all the beats of the Noah story. He sends out a bird because there's no dry land in sight. The bird doesn't come back, which means the flood is ended because the bird found dry land. The first thing he does is sacrifice animals to the gods when he hits dry land, and they disembark the boat. The gods are super pleased about this. The goddess Belet-ili is in particular super, super happy. She tries to bar Enlil, who is the one who created the flood in the first place, the god of storms and whatnot, from coming to the sacrifice. Enlil is pissed that people had survived, and he blames Ea, which is true because Ea is the reason that these people survived in the first place. Ea confronts him and says, "Hey, the slaughter of the humans was unjust and you shouldn't have done it." Enlil is like, "I'm not gonna address that," but also come here, humans.

Amanda:              Oh, no.

Julia:                     Gets Utnapishtim and his wife to kneel down before him, and says that they would no longer be human, but rather they would dwell far away from humankind and live forever.

Amanda:              This is very much being right on a technicality. He wants to be able to say, "I did kill all humans." What about those guys? They're not human anymore. What are you talking about?

Julia:                     Yeah, fuck you. They're all dead now.

Amanda:              I respect the urge though, to start your situation on a clean slate. First thing you do first day of the year. You live really healthily. You do all your resolutions. First day on a new shore in a new world, you make a sacrifice.

Julia:                     You appease the gods. It's what you do. Utnapishtim basically tells Gilgamesh that he probably would never be honored by the gods in the way that he was. He's like, "You know what, though? I'm gonna offer you a way to at least try, so what I need you to do is I need you to stay awake for six days and seven nights."

Amanda:              Oh, no.

Julia:                     Gilgamesh is like, "Oh, yeah? That sounds easy. Let's do it."

Amanda:              Oh, Gilgamesh.

Julia:                     Then the minute that he sits down he falls asleep. He actually sleeps for six days and seven nights, the exact time that he was supposed to stay awake. Utnapishtim sees where this is gonna go, so he tells his wife. He's like, "Babe. Do me a favor. For every night that Gilgamesh is asleep, I need you to bake some bread."

Amanda:              Okay.

Julia:                     She's like, "Okay. That's weird, but all right." She bakes a loaf of bread every night that Gilgamesh stays asleep, and so by the time he wakes up there are seven loaves of bread next to him. You can tell how old they are because it's bread. You know how bread ages.

Amanda:              Yeah.

Julia:                     You don't have stale bread just laying around your house.

Amanda:              That's super smart though, because otherwise how would he know?

Julia:                     Well, Utnapishtim has lived a long, long life because he's immortal, so he has some intelligence, and some knowledge and some wisdom.

Amanda:              I'm not surprised that he had a smart idea. It's just a very smart idea.

Julia:                     Yeah. No, it's very good. I liked it. He also foresaw. He's like, "I've known you for about half an hour at this point, Gilgamesh. I'm gonna need to prove to you that you've been asleep for this long," because the minute Gilgamesh wakes up he's like, "I was not asleep for that long." He's like, "Literally look at the loaves of bread." Gilgamesh wakes up. He's pissed at himself. He's pretty bummed that he's gonna die still. Nothing has been resolved.

Amanda:              Yeah. Nope, same.

Julia:                     Utnapishtim is kind of annoyed with Gilgamesh at this point. He dismisses the ferryman Urshanabi, and he tells Gilgamesh, "Okay, Urshanabi is gonna take you away, get you cleaned up, and then you're gonna leave my sight and go back to the human world." Urshanabi does this. Gets Gilgamesh all done up in some nice clothes, and they're about to leave, but Utnapishtim's wife comes out and argues that Gilgamesh has worked hard to get here, and he was leaving with nothing, and that's fucked up. Utnapishtim resigns himself, and he tells Gilgamesh that even if he's still going to die, Gilgamesh can seek out a special plant that grows at the bottom of the ocean that will make him young again.

Amanda:              Oh. Not what he's going after, but not a bad second place prize.

Julia:                     Yeah, and Gilgamesh is kind of cool with this at this point. He decides he's gonna go for it immediately, because it's Gilgamesh and he has no impulse control whatsoever.

Amanda:              Why not?

Julia:                     He starts digging a hole until he reaches groundwater, ties rocks to his feet, and then lets himself sink to the bottom of the water. There he snatches up the plant, cuts the rocks off his feet and lets the current just take him back out to sea, and then the tide brings him back to the shore. That's very simple. What you just did there? Very simple.

Amanda:              Yeah. Shockingly for Gilgamesh, he does something correctly and efficiently.

Julia:                     Well, give it a minute, because of course he doesn't eat the plant right away. That would be too easy.

Amanda:              No.

Julia:                     Instead, he decides that he's going to head back to Uruk so that he can test it on an old man there, and make sure Utnapishtim wasn't trying to dupe him.

Amanda:              I mean what's the worst that's gonna happen? He's gonna die? That's the problem in the first place.

Julia:                     Yeah. He doesn't wanna die, Amanda.

Amanda:              I know, but just try it.

Julia:                     Well, he decides this is his course of action. If it does work on the old man, then he'll get to eat it himself. Urshanabi decides that he's gonna go back with him now that he's been dismissed from his job of being the ferryman for the dead, which is just something you can do, I guess.

Amanda:              God, way to fuck up everything, Gilgamesh.

Julia:                     The two of them head back to Uruk. On the way, they stop at a spring to rest and wash up. Gilgamesh decides oh, I'm gonna take a bath, but of course he doesn't bring the plant with him when he decides to bathe.

Amanda:              No.

Julia:                     A snake sneaks up and steals the plant. The story makes a point of saying that the snake sheds its skin as it slithers away with the plant, probably showing the fact that snakes are immortal, or basically that the plant works, and the snake was able to replenish its life.

Amanda:              Well, that sucks for Gilgamesh.

Julia:                     Yeah, and Gilgamesh is rightfully heartbroken. He cries. He thinks his whole quest has been a waste. You can't really blame him for that. All of this for nothing. Still, he and Urshanabi arrive back in Uruk. There's a whole thing where the beginning of The Epic of Gilgamesh starts with the poetry explaining how Uruk is this great city, the peak of civilization and stuff like that. Gilgamesh echoes those thoughts and those ideas to Urshanabi as they approach the walls of Uruk.

Amanda:              Nice.

Julia:                     Then he is welcomed back as a hero.

Amanda:              But what happens next, Julia?

Julia:                     We go into tablet 12 next, which is, as I mentioned in the first episode, it's a weird version that retcons the story a little, and is either a prequel, or a sequel, or just a weird ... I don't know. But we're not exactly sure where it fits in the chronological aspect of the story.

Amanda:              May I propose tablet 12 as a speakeasy meme?

Julia:                     Yes, it's very good.

Amanda:              Pretty good, right?

Julia:                     That is excellent.

Amanda:              I think it's pretty good. Is it early? Is it late? Who knows? Who cares? Here we are.

Julia:                     We're in the back of a bookstore, drinking gin.

Amanda:              Yep, and looking at a portrait of Teddy Roosevelt, because why not?

Julia:                     The story of tablet 12 is called Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Netherworld, or underworld, depending on the translation. In this story Enkidu is still alive, despite the fact that he died. It is described by some scholars as quote ... Here's a very good quote. "An awkward attempt to bring closure," which is like ouch, calling JK Rowling out. It's very bad.

Amanda:              Yeah. I mean maybe some storytellers didn't wanna end with that bittersweet thing, and so they just added on an addendum.

Julia:                     Gilgamesh in this story complains to Enkidu, who is definitely still alive, that some of his belongings have fallen into the underworld, physically fallen in. He's like, "My cup, it's gone."

Amanda:              Oops, all underworld.

Julia:                     Enkidu, who has either is going to die, or has died, depending on the chronological nature of the story-

Amanda:              I mean maybe they ran into each other in the underworld. I don't know.

Julia:                     Maybe, but he offers to bring them back for his friend.

Amanda:              Nope, nevermind.

Julia:                     Gilgamesh is so grateful he gives Enkidu this lesson on what he can and can't do in the underworld if he wants to return to the world of the living. Enkidu being Enkidu just does everything he's not supposed to.

Amanda:              Oh, sure. Yes.

Julia:                     He is stuck remaining in the underworld. Gilgamesh tries to appeal to the gods to return his friend, and Ea and Shamash are the ones who decide to hep him out. Shamash cracks open the earth, and Enkidu's ghost is allowed to rise from the underworld. The tablet, and I suppose the story, if this is how we wanna end it, ends with Gilgamesh asking his friend's ghost about what he has seen in his time in the underworld. This is where we get the establishment of what the underworld in The Epic of Gilgamesh looks like.

Amanda:              Interesting.

Julia:                     With the feathers, and the darkness, and the dirt and the clay.

Amanda:              Right. Wow. I mean that's not a bad ending in terms of you can continue a friendship with someone after ... You can have that relationship persist even if someone dies. That lives on with you. But that doesn't sound like the scenario that we're talking about.

Julia:                     Yeah. It feels like it was hastily written closure to a story where ... One of my favorite examples of a translation from stage to film is when they were making the Little Shop of Horrors movie. The original ending ends the same way that the play does, which is basically the killer plants from outer space take over the world. The biggest argument that the test audiences had was this is ... It's too bleak. It's so sad. They're just signing as the plants destroy the cities, and the whole world, and take over. They realized that kind of ending works in a play format where the actors can come out after dying, and can take a bow, and the audience gets closure. But in a film where you don't see those people at the end of film taking a bow and are still alive, it feels very bleak and very disheartening. This is what tablet 12 feels like to me, is the oh, it's okay though, because he's still kind of alive, and they still have a friendship, and all of that mourning was for nothing.

Amanda:              Yeah, you're right. I think it would feel different if the mourning wasn't such a motivating force of half of this epic, but that sounds so powerful. I can imagine this text being really meaningful to people who are dealing with that challenge in their own lives.

Julia:                     Yeah, for sure. I think one of the things I wanna really discuss with The Epic of Gilgamesh is the fact that it's been 4,000 years, give or take. It's been about 4,000 years since The Epic of Gilgamesh was written, and our priorities haven't changed that much.

Amanda:              No.

Julia:                     I'll preface this. I used to work at a spa and wellness company that was definitely a front for some sort of money laundering thing.

Amanda:              Totally money laundering.

Julia:                     All of the things that I used to see in the spa community were how to stay young forever, how to live longer, how to basically become immortal, to the point where there was some creepy shit going on. People would get blood transfusions from teenagers so that their blood would be younger. It was absolutely wild stuff.

Amanda:              Yeah, anytime I see that adapted in a TV show I think, "checks out."

Julia:                     But the idea that we are always trying to outsmart death, and the more logical, the more knowledgeable, the wiser people in the story are always the ones that accept death as part of life.

Amanda:              We've talked about it before, how unfortunately there are lessons that you just have to learn by doing it. You can hear so many times live in the moment, focus on now, accept that it'll all end someday, but you still have other appreciate it, and yet ... Or even to value the time you have with your loved ones now. But unfortunately, or fortunately, it really takes living through it for that kind of meaning to sink in. This feels like every attempt that humans have at storytelling is to try to save other people from the pain of learning that lesson themselves, but I think that's the human condition.

Julia:                     Yeah. I actually pulled an interesting quote from tablet two, which I wish we had talked a little bit more when we touched upon it, but I think it really does talk about Gilgamesh's outlook on what death is in his world. Here's the quote. "We all die anyway, so I might as well accomplish great, risky deeds, and make a name for myself. That way my fame will live on after I'm dead, even if I have a short life."

Amanda:              Wow, so it sounds like his priorities really shifted in that he realized the beauty of deep relationships worth having in the life, not just thinking about how your legacy is going to be carried on after you die.

Julia:                     Yeah, absolutely. I think that's reflected in what basically everyone tries to tell him in the second half of the story where it's like dude, just live your life. Enjoy life what it ... For what it is. It's just if you live every day like a party, every day is going to feel like such joy. But if you obsess about what death is going to come, and what your legacy is going to be after, then you're not gonna enjoy it, and you're not gonna live it.

Amanda:              I was just thinking about this in a totally micro sense in terms of our preparation for PodCon, where there were a lot of logistics to think about. There were seven people coming from different cities. We had an expo booth. We had two workshops, several panels, two live show ... Three live shows, two offsite. A lot of these logistics I was just thinking about so much in the months before the event, but I feel like I struck a good balance between trying to prepare and obsessing. Definitely my personality is to obsess over things, and to think about every eventuality, and be 100% certain in whatever decision I'm making before I make it. But that's not practical, and also that sucks a lot of the time.

Julia:                     Yeah.

Amanda:              It just sucks to have that on myself, and to carry that around. So for PodCon, I didn't think of every single detail. When we had to all leave the booth to go to a show that we were doing, we just wrote on some paper, "Hey, this is where we are. We'll see you guys later." I could have thought of that in advance and made signs, and put it up and been really professional, but instead I was just like, "Let's figure it out." There were lots of people around, lots of folks to help. You can figure some stuff out on the ground. So in the moment, the lesson I took from that was saying okay, you can think about the important stuff, but at a certain point you just have to trust yourself and the people around you to figure it out when you get there. Whatever might be imperfect on the day, is that really worth so many hours of stress beforehand?

Julia:                     Yeah.

Amanda:              I don't know. It felt profound, and I'm seeing echoes of this in you don't wanna live your life only for yourself, and only for today, but you also don't want to be so obsessed with what comes after death.

Julia:                     Yeah, sure. I feel that very hard, what you just described. When I'm in therapy and I'm talking about my anxiety, I tend to talk about how the way that my brain catastrophizes things. I call it worst case scenario brain. My brain will just not stop cycling through all of the things that could possibly go wrong, no matter how likely or unlikely those things are. I think that it very much puts me in the same mindset that Gilgamesh is in.

                                He's so obsessed with the inevitability of what ... He's going to die. He understands that for the first time in his life when Enkidu dies, and so all of a sudden he is obsessed with the idea of okay, well when am I gonna die? When am I gonna die? What's gonna happen? How can I avoid this for as long as possible? That's basically what his journey becomes, and it's extremely unhealthy. The way that our brains catastrophize things, and the way that they cycle through catastrophe is basically I see that a lot in myself, and the story, and the idea that I need to separate myself, and enjoy, and just live in the moment, rather than focusing on the terrible things that could potentially happen in the future, even though the likelihood is not that high at all.

Amanda:              Yeah. Oh my gosh, so much. I heard all the advice you hear about falling in love, and then when I did it, I was like oh, no. Wait. This'll make it worse when everything ends. I had to really feel that, and let it just live in my body until I was able to realize okay, yes, the more you care, the harder the eventual parting of people from this Earth is going to be, but that suffering is proof of our care. The more worry or the more potential hurt, hopefully that's outweighed by just enjoyment, and love, and acceptance, and understanding in life. I feel like I've totally ... If there were a deity coming to me and being like, "Yo, you want this, or should I take it away because you won't suffer some day?" At one point in my life I would've said, "I wanna minimize suffering," and that would've been my choice every time. But now I feel a little bit more balanced, and realize that joy really matters. Joy is worth future heartache.

Julia:                     Oh, yeah. I think that's actually a good note for us to leave on today. I will tell our listeners to choose joy, and also to stay creepy.

Amanda:              Stay cool.