Gilgamesh and Bill

Chairs and Gilgamesh, Cape Breton Island photo by Cheri Block Sabraw 2009

by cheri block sabraw

Life has a way of delivering messages to us if only we will listen, and not talk, blowing our wind for all to hear.

Events, thoughts, people intersect our lives in perfect timing if only we will notice.

Here in Nova Scotia, I finished a long piece of ancient poetry first written during the Old Babylonian period (1800-1600 B.C.E.) called The Epic of Gilgamesh.

The characters, some historical and some mythological, could be people you know today with the same desires and frailties—love and lust, friendship and betrayal, hope and despair.

Our view of Hurricane Bill from the Prince George Hotel in Halifax 2009

Here in Nova Scotia, Hurricane Bill lashes the coastline, grounds planes, and rips Canadian flags off their poles.

And the modern characters, from airline agents to hotel personnel, behave in ways similar to Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Guardian of the Cedar Forest, Humbaba.

The common thread delivering the message here in Nova Scotia is the wind.

Listen and stop blowing wind.

Consider these magnificent lines spoken by Gilgamesh, a young virile king, to his new, and only friend, Enkidu:

Who, my friend, can ascend to the Heavens?

Only the Gods can dwell forever with Shamash (the Sun God)

As for human beings, their days are numbered

and whatever they keep trying to achieve is but wind.

Contrast his description of Humbaba:

His roar is a flood.

His mouth is fire.

His breath is Death.

Note the use of the preposition but in Gilgamesh’s statement. To him, human achievement pales when compared with the power of Humbaba to evoke floods, fire, and Death.

And while wind can be invigorating and cleansing, it can also diffuse toxins or bad odors, carrying them down wind for us to breathe and smell.

Humans are full of wind, some of it pure electric energy, but most of it blowing babble.

Hurricane Bill hit today, our flights were canceled, and in the process of trying to find a way home, I listened to airline agents from four different carriers, all but one, full of empty wind, the type that blows and then quiets the sail, rendering the boat impotent.

Stop talking and listen.

Gilgamesh fears Death after his friend Enkidu dies and decays, so he travels to the land of Utanapishtim the Faraway, the only man who has been granted eternal life.

Utanapishtim sees Gilgamesh and says:

Look there! The man (the youth) who wanted eternal life!

Sleep (like a fog) blew over him.

Utanapishtim’s wife says:

Touch him, let the man awaken.

Let him return safely by the way he came.

Let him return to his land by the gate through which he left.

I listened to Utanapishtim this morning.

He booked us on a flight at 6:30 am home.

Most stranded are here until Thursday.

Cape Breton. 2009

About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in Life, On fiction and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Gilgamesh and Bill

  1. Douglas says:

    Did you really wish to fly out during a storm?

  2. Cheri says:

    No, we did not, but staying here until Thursday wasn’t practical. The American airlines were not cooperative; in fact, their attitudes were diffident, at best. No big deal. We’ll get you out of here by Thursday…chill out….

    Westjet of Canada was superior, in all things service.

  3. Douglas says:

    Ah, the airlines often seem to think the passengers are there for the airlines’ purpose rather than the other way around. Times have changed since I first flew in 1965. One did not feel so much at their disposal then. It’s nice to know that there are still some airlines that understand the relationship between customer and service provider.

  4. Hi Cheri. I loved The Epic of Gilgamesh. It was a favorite alongside Beowulf as well as Homer’s The Odyssey and The Illiad. I love those epic adventures. I remember being on the beach one summer and my cousin asked, “what are you reading?” I said, “The Illiad.” He laughed and said something to the effect of it not being as riveting a read as Stephen King. How wrong could they be?

  5. andreaskluth says:

    I second the Sci Fi Fanatic.

    That said, Gilgamesh or not, sounds like one vacation that went wrong.

  6. Mr. Crotchety says:

    Settlers on the U.S. Great Plains went mad from the wind (are they great or are they plain?). We get more than our fair share of high winds. People collect like pieces of trash at the corner of two buildings. Dumpsters vomit. Small dogs get stuck against a chain-link fence. The worst is when the sky is blue, the sun is shining and everyone says it’s a beautiful day (yeah, well f you, too).

    • Cheri says:

      People collect like pieces of trash at the corner of two buildings. Dumpsters vomit. Small dogs get stuck against a chain-link fence.

      I love this. Love this. I can see this.

  7. Cheri says:

    We blew in from Nova Scotia about 4 hours ago. Glad to be home but already miss a pristine land with really nice people (and not very many of them, to boot).

    Too many damn people here in California, eh?

  8. Cheri says:

    The number of people in the Bay Area is now 7.2 million. When I commented back in 2009, Silicon Valley was getting ready to hatch its roe. Eight years later, we are wall-to-wall people. I want OUT.

    • Christopher says:

      So then, you need less people around?

      Consider, though, these words from the famous song,

      People who need people,
      Are the luckiest people in the world………”

      Be careful of what you want. You might get it!!!

      • Cheri says:

        Yes. I need fewer people around, fewer people on the freeways, in the parking lots, on the hiking trails, on the beaches. Fewer people! If people were more enjoyable to be around, perhaps I would feel differently.

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