Charles Bukowski is hailed by some as a Bohemian poet, while others consider him merely a bum. For better or for worse, he is like a Nietzschean prophet who defies the laws of gravity and groundedness and who like many other talented artists decided to take a leap and live out his passions. Yes, he may have been driven on by his personal demons, and yes he may have been self-destructive, wreaking havoc on his body and soul, yet at the same time, he was passionate about living.
Sometimes I feel that my passion for life is like second-hand smoke. I dare not lead a life of ecstasy the way Bukowski and many other artists did. For these people it is not about creating art, but actually living it to its ultimate consequences. Life becomes a work and expression of art. He was in the shadow of society, but he did not care what others thought. What mattered most was his own personal lifestyle, and very few people have the guts to live out such a gut-wrenching life of ups and downs.
To such people, joy and ecstasy are the most important motivators. Money to them is worthless in itself and is valued only to the degree that it can bring them pleasure in drink, drugs and sex. Nothing holds them back, that is why I see them as a Nietzschean prototype who verges on the border of madness but wears his heart and mind on his sleeves for all to see and touch.
Although most of us would shrug off this kind of life or might even criticize these people for being irresponsible, selfish and childish, the truth is that we have a certain secret admiration for them. Some part of us would like to live like there is no tomorrow and wake up with heads filled with memories of yesterday's scandalous, obscene and outrageous deeds.
Such a life would be devoid of sentimentality or companionship. It is not about building bridges or foundations. No family, no permanent jobs, no tangible accomplishments. Just fleeting floating life. No romance, but purely physical connections. Love as its basest form, lust, not as a void, but as a spiritual abyss.
A passion that reverberates in every fibre of your body and remains there until your final day. And when that day comes, you can look back and say, yes, I have lived a full life; I have lived out all my fantasies and although I leave behind no lasting legacy, I also, like the untamed lion-hearted Caesar, can claim for myself “veni, vidi, vici.”
But me, I have contented myself with life's mirror, Mistress Art with all her beautiful playful handmaids. Books fill me with the joy I dare not experience. Movies take me to places I would not willingly go. I watch yet in the comfort of my home, with the support of my immediate family close to me. I experience life by observing the daily accomplishments of my son.
The joy I feel is nonetheless real and lasting. I have to work for a living; I need to ensure safety and security; I am tied to the ebb and flow of money, but I grow content by taking pleasure in small things. And whenever I feel stagnant and stuck, it is art that comes to the rescue that fills my soul with images of a life lived to its ultimate consequences, the limitless passion that devours the whole being in a blazing fire.