Charles Bukowski was in a league of assholes all his own. He was misogynistic, misanthropic and a mean-ass drunk. He may have even been a worse human being than Ernest Hemingway or Hunter S. Thompson — and this is not an easy feat to accomplish.
But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a great writer, and it also doesn’t mean that he wasn’t rife with wisdom that still applies to the young people of today. He was also almost as quotable as Oscar Wilde.
I’ve learned the following things from years of reading Bukowski:
You’ve got to make due occasionally, even if the scenario isn’t ideal: Bukowski summed up this notion in one sentence: “Sometimes, you just have to pee in the sink.” And it’s true. Things aren’t always going to be ideal; they’re not always going to go as planned. And when this happens, you have to roll with the punches and change what you’re doing.
You should take pride in how well you deal with adversity: Bukowski maintained that “what matters most is how well you walk through the fire.” This quote taught me that it is more crucial than ever to perform admirably when you’re on a long, long ride on the good old Struggle Bus. I’m much more satisfied with things I’ve done while in the midst of tough times than I am when everything is fine and dandy.
Simplicity is often underrated: “An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way,” Bukowski said. This makes sense because he was very narcissistic and thought of himself as the best writer ever, despite the fact his style was very minimalistic. My life goals are to write for consumer advertising and for television. In both mediums, you’re going to be a lot more successful if you’re presenting information, jokes or anything else in an easily digestible and understandable way.
Sex is often overrated: If you want a quote that puts things in perspective, here you go: “Sex is interesting, but it’s not totally important. I mean it’s not even as important (physically) as excretion. A man can go seventy years without a piece of ass, but he can die in a week without a bowel movement.” I suggest you paste this to your wall and look at it every day. It’ll come in handy the next time you find yourself in a lengthy dry spell.
Don’t be afraid to NOT do something you’re uncomfortable with: Buk said that if you’re losing your soul and you know it, then you’ve still got a soul left to lose. If you find yourself doing something that could dampen your integrity or values, and you have qualms with it, find a way to stop doing it, whatever it may be.
You’ll be better off if you keep an open mind and think for yourself: I think this quote speaks for itself. At least it’s better than anything I’ve ever read in the Bible: “For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. I am my own god. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”
There are worse things than being alone: Bukowski’s poem “Oh Yes” is about the importance of realizing, in lonely times, that things could be worse. It’s important when you find yourself alone to try and embrace it the best you can. Being alone is a great time to work on self-improvement. At least that’s what I’ve found. And I’ve had plenty of experience.