The ancient Babylonian epic traces the life of its hero, Gilgamesh. At the end of his life, after he has tried and failed to achieve immortality, Gilgamesh stands outside the city of Uruk and meditates on life. All people are here for a short amount of time, and then they are gone. Even Gilgamesh, himself the offspring of the Gods, eventually must die. Don’t look at mortal creatures to discover immortality. If you want to see something that lasts forever, look at the wall of the city. They will stand forever.
Gilgamesh was on to something. You and I are going to leave this earth one day. But what we leave behind becomes immortal. Our works live on, perhaps forever. The thing is, we have to leave something behind. It does us no good to say that we intended to build our walls but we never got around to it.
Even if we don’t leave something earth-shattering behind us, we can leave our stories. We can leave our ideas. We can leave our memories, the things we stood for or tried to accomplish, the things that give our life meaning. We can do this by putting it in writing. And who knows? We may realize, for the first time, what these things are.
That’s one reason to record your stories. Don’t worry about whether they will end up on the Times best-seller list or be featured performances on This American Life. They don’t need to be. Don’t worry about whether other people will think you have something to say. You do.