The Journey Towards Self-Fulfillment

Throughout all the novels we have read, the characters were in some way searching for self-fulfillment. Across the course, characters reached to attain their ideal image of self-fulfillment through different mediums. Each person has a unique journey towards self-actualization based on their perceptions and desires. Self Actualization is finding ones purpose in life and giving your life meaning. Every one has their own unique purpose in life, so everyone's journey towards self actualization is different. Characters in the novels reached for self fulfillment through immortality, love, simplicity, self sacrifice, and honor.  We also saw an individuals unwavering optimistic journey towards achieving their dream life. Alternatively,  we saw how inability to achieve self actualization can lead to ones ultimate self destruction. The road to finding ones ultimate purpose in life is a never ending and winding road. It is not always a clear path and you must build it by bettering your life in every aspect. 

Throughout the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh longs to be immortal like the gods. He fears death after his friend Endiku dies and tries to find a way to escape every mans fate. After Endiku's passing, Gilgamesh sets out on a journey to find Utnapishtim. Gilgamesh believes that he will help him become immortal. He challenges Gilgamesh to go one week without sleep. Gilgamesh fails. He then challenges Gilgamesh to find the immortality plant at the bottom of the sea. Gilgmesh successfully retrieves the plant, only to have it stolen by a snake while he takes a swim. Soon Gilgmesh comes to terms with the fact that no man can escape death because it is their destiny. Gilgamesh could never reach his self fulfillment because he realized during his journey that immortality is impossible. The only true immortality is through the impact you make on the world while you are alive.
Throughout the novel Candide, Candide searches for love with Cunegonde. Candide's idea of self fulfillment is to be able to be with the one he loves in a sort of dream world. Throughout the novel, Candide suffers through a series of unfortunate events as he tried to fin cunegonde. No matter how many ill fated things happen, however, Candide remain hopeful and continues to perservere in his journey towards self fulfillment. He even leaves a city where everything is essentially perfect because it is not his idea of perfect. His only idea of perfect is if his love is there. When he finally finds his love, he realizes that she has become ugly over the years. Candide vows to love he anyway because she has been all his heart has desired. They live on a small farm and candide finally has his "perfect world."
Another way we saw characters reach towards self fulfillment was through self sacrifice. In The Yellow Birds, Murph and Bart went in to the war knowing that their lives could be lost. The soldiers continued to fight in the war despite this fact because they saw the good of the American nation above the value of their own lives. Potentially sacrificing their life for the greater good was something that they saw could make their life meaningful. Which is ironic, because while fighting in the war Murph and Bart saw their lives as being very insignificant and as meaning very little to the commander. They viewed their life as just a number, but knew that that number could potentially help the greater good.
Another way one could reach self actualization would be through being honored for their achievements and dedication. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh killed the beast Humbaba and the bull of heaven to earn the honor and respect of the people of Uruk. He ended up reaching self fulfillment by being a powerful leader to the people of Uruk. Also, in the Yellow Birds, it is a possibility that Bart and Murph joined the war because they were looking to earn honor and respect for serving their country. Although this is not how they felt at the end of the novel, when they went into the war they joined for a purpose. They wanted to make something of their life and wanted to do something meaningful.
The journey towards attaining self-actualization is a winding road and there no clear cut answer to what will truly make you feel fulfilled. No one is told or knows right away what what will make you feel like you achieved your purpose in life. Searching for your purpose is a constant winding uphill battle. You need to achieve all the small needs in your life and become your absolute best. With each step you move up to better our life, you are climbing the steps towards self actualization.
In the Metamorphosis, Gregor is held back from reaching his full potential by his family. Gregor must work every day to pay off the debt his dad has incurred. He is also trying to pay for his sister to play the violin professionally. Trying to make everyone else's life better, however, held Gregor back from reaching his own self actualization. In The Metamorphisis, Gregor turning into a bug is a metaphor of him being useless and restricted. Life is always working against your dreams and restricting you, but it about how you overcome those restrictions to achieve your dream life. You have to live a life that mean something to you or else it will be your ultimate self destruction, like Gregor.
In the Dao religion, people achieve self actualization through living a life of simplicity. They believe that everything must work in a balance and awe must accept the world for what it is in order to live in harmony with the Dao. The Dao is not a divine upper power, like some gods, but is one with the world and lives in everything. They think of him as the way of the universe that is a balance of everything good and bad in the world. Daoist's believe that life is the greatest gift, so they strip away their selfish desires and have a high moral standing. They live a simple life and don't seek power, fame, or wealth. This is the symbol of their religion, the Yin Yang. It shows a representation of a balanced life between the good and the bad.
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