I got really mad at Charles Bukowski last night. Earlier in the day, I’d run across the quote below from his novel, Women.
“I was drawn to all the wrong things: I liked to drink, I was lazy, I didn’t have a god, politics, ideas, ideals. I was settled into nothingness; a kind of non-being, and I accepted it. I didn’t make for an interesting person. I didn’t want to be interesting, it was too hard. What I really wanted was only a soft, hazy space to live in, and to be left alone.”
I’d only been introduced to Bukowski once before and though I got a glimpse of him them, I don’t know him well at all.
Over drinks, I told a friend who knew him better how much Bukowski had irritated me and what a poor impression he’d made. Was he just going to flaunt his simultaneous knowledge of all that lacks and offer nothing to suggest change, evolution or attempts toward improvement?! My friend listened with understanding and then set a broader context, as we do for the ones we know and care for. I learned more about the man behind the words. We acknowledged the truth that he evokes. I lightened my stance and amended my position. In truth, I know Bukowski almost only as I know Che Guevara through his face on a t-shirt. Or, so as to say, I know more about the people who wear him than I do about the man himself. The quote above from Bukowski’s Women is powerful and taps into things I can relate to for sure. What remained troubling to me though is the temptation to romanticize the listlessness and resign Bukowski conveys.
I see that Bukowski taps into very real feelings through authentic conveyance of emotion. He speaks to dark, human feelings many of us feel, so we resonate with his words. We read and we feel. But after the feelings have been felt, I will agree:
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein