I first experienced Charles Bukowski when I read ‘Ham on Rye’. This semi-autobiographical novel turned my stomach, filled me with anger and enabled me to feel empathy all at the same time. Experiencing so many emotions from one, fairly short book, surprised me. I felt shocked by some of the things that I read, yet I was also fascinated by the fact that someone had laid themselves so bare for all the world to see. For so many years now, writing has come naturally to me. It is as natural to me as thinking and breathing…..in fact, it is an extension of the elements that make me whole, yet I’ve always shied away from laying myself and my emotions bare for fear of being judged. Don’t get me wrong….from time to time I have written raw and gritty pieces that I have gone on to delete, not knowing what impact they may have had on their reader OR if they were even read at all (such is the anonymity of the world wide web). Bukowski was a very troubled man, an alcoholic, womaniser and someone who struggled with his temper. These are generally the characteristics I loathe in another human being, but the force of his words AND the wisdom that comes with them made Bukowski like a drug to me and I was opened up to a whole new world of thinking….one in which expressing madness and raw emotions was not seen as a weakness, but was seen as something empowering. There is a reason why Time magazine of 1986 described him as “the laureate of American lowlife”.
Whenever I read Bukowski (on a daily basis, in snippets), my emotions are stimulated. He seems to perfectly entangle every positive and negative aspect of life – from relationships through to sex and everything in between. His self doubt seems to know no bounds and in this I seek great comfort.
I think that throughout my entire life I have been crippled by self doubt. I’ve always felt that there was someone better out there than me and, fairly often, I have been treated that way and this has fueled the negativity even more. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised that there may be people out there who are better looking, richer, more popular, but that is really irrelevant to my life in the long run. What I have to offer to the world and those around me is unique and that’s what makes me me. How other people feel about me is fairly unimportant as long as I believe in myself and offer the best version of myself to the world. I’ve found this approach now attracts the right people to me after years of attracting the wrong people who have abused me because they didn’t understand or like themselves very much. Don’t get me wrong, there are days where I feel like a vile, insecure mess, but that is usually just for one day and then I pull myself together, do some stern talking and get back to the real me that thinks she is good enough. A certain amount of self deprecation keeps us grounded, but it is important to get the balance right. Noone loves a whiner. Good, old Charles taught me that!
He also taught me that belief in yourself is the only thing you can truly own. Being lonely is a curse and one that a lot of people have very little control over. However, it is worth noting that too many people have never experienced true lonliness. I have and it was a time that I have decided to use to my great advantage because I know that I was the one who saved myself from it, noone else. You are in control of so many more elements of your life than you give yourself credit for. As soon as you stop expecting other people to make you whole, prevent lonliness or build you up, you will discover just how powerful you are as an individual.
So many people think that Bukowski is a very depressing read and, to some extent, they would be right in thinking this. However, it is all about perspective. I see the negativity, I relate to it and I take the message from it, without dwelling on it for too long. For me, Charles Bukowski is inspirational and leads me to a deeper sense of understanding of the soul…..my soul. He talks a lot about sex and control, but he also explains that without a deeper understanding of yourself you can never fully appreciate the wonder that is a physical relationship with someone. Anyone can have sex, but if you are not in tune with your body AND your mind, you will be left wanting. Finding yourself (cheesy as this sounds) leads to much deeper and more meaningful relationships with your own soul as well as the souls of those closest to you.
I could probably talk about Bukowski all day and I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last post I write about him, but this is just a little bit from my mind today. It only scratches the surface, but I’m just testing the waters to see if anyone feels the same about this man and if more posts would be warranted.
Light and love, people. Mimi Cat xox