Thursday, December 22, 2005


I had a bad day today. Not horrible, mind you, but awful enough that when I arrived home, I had a raging, near-blinding headache. You see, sometimes my mouth (or my fingers, for that matter) move faster than my brain. I often get myself in trouble because of that fact, and today was no exception.

I did something I felt was right --even nice -- without thought as to how it would affect the feelings of someone else. I'm not taking all the blame for the situation, as it was more miscommunication than anything, but still, my behavior was less than exemplary. Fortunately, everything has since been rectified, but my mood was still in dire need of improvement until just a short while ago.

I often find that when I'm upset about something, it helps me to read books by authors who's sensibilities are markedly different than my own. In other words, I'm generally a very happy person, so when I'm sad, I tend to read authors known for being brooding, angry or depressed. Nothing facilitates a better state of mind than reading someone else's misery. Realizing things can always be worse most definitely tends to brighten one's mood.

So, I pulled on my PJ's, curled up under a blanket and began to read Betting on the Muse by Charles Bukowski. If you've ever read any of his works, you know that delving in to his mind brings you in to a world where addiction, insanity and genius often collide. Tonite, I could think of no better author to wrestle me from the grip of my own unhappiness.

But something interesting happened while I was reading. Amongst his usual passages of despair, I came across a poem that left me, well, gobsmacked. I had expected to feel better after reading this book, if only because his life was measurably worse than my silly little state of affairs. But what I found instead, was this:

the laughing heart
your life is your life.
don't let it be clubbed into dank
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you
know them, take them.
you can't beat death but
you can beat death
in life,
and the more often you
learn to do it,
the more light there will
your life is your life.
know it while you have
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
Thank you, Mr. B., for giving me the lightness I so desperately needed all day.
Betting on The Muse, Poems and Stories by Charles Bukowski
Black Sparrow Press 1997

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