Patrick Stokes writes that the oldest piece of literature is actually about our desire to conquer death. The Epic of Gilgamesh describes the futility of efforts to conquer civilization, the gods, and ultimately mortality. In the same manner that Gilgamesh wasn't deterred from his quest to overcome mortality, we are pretty much fighting the same battle.
The ultimate advice given to Gilgamesh by Siduri, a wise woman, should help us focus our pursuits.
"As for you Gilgamesh, fill your belly with good things; day and night, nigh and day, dance and be merry, feast and rejoice. Let your clothes be fresh, bathe yourself in water, cherish the little child that holds your hand, and make your wife happy in your embrace; for this too is the lot of man."
Not bad for a stone tablet that predates the wisdom of Homer by centuries...
"No disease suffered by a man can be known, for every living person has his own peculiarities and always has his own peculiar, personal, novel, complicated disease, unknown to medicine"--Leo Tolstoy