“We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.” Charles Bukowski
One night when we were teenagers my friend Jeff jumped in front of a train because he thought it was the best way to handle things at the time. A group of us had gone to the movies and as usual Jeff was out of control drunk. After another argument with his mother, a recovering alcoholic, he made his way to the tracks and waited.
Somehow he didn’t die but only broke his pelvis, and he continued to drink as heavily as before. He had his problems: two alcoholic parents, one who shot himself playing Russian roulette and a couple of missing fingers from a homemade bomb explosion, but which one caused such deep depression? Maybe all of them or maybe something else.
I lost touch with Jeff in my late twenties and watched other friends attempt to handle their depression in various ways. Most drank and did drugs as I did, and as time went by several ended up dead. After a breakup with his girlfriend my friend Cary tied a bayonet to his steering wheel and drove into a bridge. Others overdosed or shot themselves, and a former boss chose hanging.
Forty years later I still continue to struggle with depression and see many in the same boat. A photographer I used to follow, Don Graham, often wrote about his battle with Bipolar disorder and several months ago took his own life. He was in therapy and on several medications.
Depression is a fight we have with ourselves, completely created by our thoughts and we get stuck there. Antidepressants will only take you so far and often the side effects are unbearable. Therapy may help, but unless they’ve been there themselves it can seem like just words they learned from a course in college.
I think of depression like a train: Sometimes you can see it objectively, and despite all the smoke and noise you can distance yourself from it and get through the day. Other times its headed right for you, and like my friend Jeff, you stand there as it runs you over.
My favorite author, Charles Bukowski wrote: Nobody can save you but yourself and you’re worth saving. It’s a war not easily won but if anything is worth winning then this is it. Think about it. Think about saving your self.”
Charles Bukowski used to go to the racetrack as often as possible for something to do during the day, or as he called it: “To murder and mutilate the hours.” In his book The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship he wrote: “It gets boring, even when you’re winning. But where else could I go? An art museum?”
So on this rainy March morning with a high wind advisory and gusts between 40-60 mph I asked myself what am I going to do all day. And for some reason I decided to go to a museum, not an art museum but The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg.
It was fairly interesting with many badly lit displays and signs that asked you not to climb on the best things like the fancy dining cars and hundred year old steam engines. There were also a lot of mannequins dressed in period clothing posed in trains, storefronts and working on the railroad.
I walked up the stairs on one of the few locomotives that allowed it and what I thought was a dummy reading the newspaper was actually an old man who wanted desperately to talk to someone, about not suprisingly, trains.
A few minutes later I saw what I thought were costumed workers setting up a new exhibit, but this time it was dummies. I was fooled again, fooled by things because I wasn’t paying enough attention.
Shunryu Suzuki once said: “The kind of life you have is not so important. The most important thing is to be able to enjoy your life without being fooled by things.”
That seems to be good advice although the part about the kind of life you have not being important is a bit confusing. I’ll start off with trying not to get fooled again, maybe even tipping my hat to the new constitution.
Note to self: Buy a hat.
I passed by a field today that was covered with beautiful sunflowers last summer. I met the owner and she told me they only plant them every other year, this year they planted corn. But I thought I saw some on the edge growing in between wheat and wildflowers.
I stopped to take a closer look and as sure as birth and death there they were. They weren’t planted but must have come from last years stray seeds, for all practical purposes they were reincarnated.
So I asked myself if they were reincarnated, what were their plans for this summer? Were they going to try to be better flowers, were they going to do things differently this time, were they going to savor every minute they were alive and just be themselves?
And my self answered that it wanted more coffee. Then it answered that it didn’t matter because once again they would stand there and be beautiful for a while, and eventually die and start all over again.
The Buddha (allegedly) said: “Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” So I took a few photos, got more coffee, and remembered the most important thing I’ve ever read by Charles Bukowski: “What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.” Yes.
“The park grass looked greener, the park benches looked better and the flowers were trying harder.” Charles Bukowski
Charles Bukowski wrote a book called the people look like flowers at last, but today it seemed that the flowers look like people at last.
Maybe it’s me, but I think that if you look closely at these beautiful, so far unidentified flowers, the one of the right looks like Kim Kardashian wearing a white skirt.
The flower on the left may resemble one of her sisters, but the last thing I need is a Kardashian tweeting that I’m body/flower shaming. I’m simply keeping up with the flora.
There’s a proverb that says throw a lucky man in the sea, and he’ll come up with a fish in his mouth. People try this on fishing trips all the time and it rarely works.
Aeschylus, a Greek tragedian said: “When a man’s willing and eager, the gods join in.” If this were true they never would have invented Viagra and Cialis. But wait, there’s more.
The Dalai Lama said: “Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” This is confusing and may or may not be true, but I’m not going to argue with a Buddhist monk.
Charles Bukowski probably said it best: “I’ve learned to feel good when I feel good. It’s better to be driven around in a red Porsche than to own one. The luck of the fool is inviolate.”
Note: inviolate describes something so sacred or pure that it must not be violated. Write that down.
I remember the first time I heard someone say that there weren’t enough hours in the day. It was my friend Terry, a normal teenager like the rest of us, but with a lot more money, the hottest girl in high school, and the largest drug business in town.
I’ve never felt that way because like Albert Einstein, I believe that time is an illusion. But the world runs on time, our days are based on hours, minutes and seconds. And whether you believe in it or not, if you don’t show up to class or work people get upset.
There are 86,400 seconds in a day, and if you manage to sleep for eight hours a third of those are spent unconscious. It may still seem like a lot of time when you’re young, but as you get older you see how it slips away.
Charles Bukowski wrote a book of poems called The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills, a beautiful way to say what we all know but sometimes try to ignore. One of his many brilliant quotes is: “We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”
For those of you that would like a more clinical view from one of the most famous doctors of all time, I give you this from Dr. Seuss: “How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”
Euphorbia myrsinites, also known as myrtle euphorbia or donkeytail spurge, is one of the most useful and highly ornamental plants to grow in the garden.
Now for the bad news: the milky white sap has been known to cause extreme allergic reactions that in some cases can lead to anaphylactic shock, and visits to the emergency room are frequently reported.
Charles Bukowski wrote a book called The People Look Like Flowers At Last. This flower looks like the pretty college girl next door who works as an escort on weekends. Approach both with caution and use protection.
Everyone struggles in one way or another, its part of living this life of illusion. Whether it’s the ten thousand things or the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to, there are challenges to be dealt with every day.
For the man in this photo his struggle at that moment was to inflate the balloon, for me it was trying to get a decent shot before I ran out of patience, for the owner of the United States Hot Air Balloon Team, his was waiting for the wind to die down enough to launch safely.
No big deal right? Yet some challenges are harder than others. For one person it might be your supermodel wife telling you that there is no caviar left, and that she scratched the Ferrari, again. For another it might be a denied parole and your cell mate telling you that he wants to be more than just friends.
One of my favorite authors, Charles Bukowski once said; “I don’t know about other people, but when I wake up in the morning and put my shoes on, I think, Jesus Christ, now what?” So it would seem that for some life is harder than for others. But wait…
In his poem How Is Your Heart, he reflects on the rougher times in his life. Jail, bad relationships, hangovers, backalley fights and hospitals, but looks at it in a different way. The last line in that poem is so perfect that people actually have it tattooed on their body, which is tricky because its 11 words.
He wrote; “What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.”
At once time I considered getting that tattoo on my arm, but struggled with the choice of fonts. Decisions, decisions, decisions.