Friday, January 18, 2013

Why Wait?

if-there-is-light photo if-there-is-light_zps9e4e0179.jpg
We all have goals, dreams, and aspirations. We all have an idea in our minds of what we want to do, who we want to be. There are many “greats” in the world – Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Helen Keller, Ernest Hemingway, Leo Tolstoy, to name a few – and it’s easy to forget that everyone had their own obstacles to get where they did. We all have to live our own stories… fight our own battles, appreciate the blessings, and savor the moments. First, you just have to decide how the next chapter will play out.
I often find inspiration in the writings of others. The power of the written word is pretty undeniable, don’t you think? It’s that small glimpse into what that person is thinking, that little peek into their souls. What makes them tick, what’s deep in their heart. I’ve written in the past about Letters of Note, a site full of letters sent throughout the world – some from people you may even recognize. Here’s one I thought you’d like…

bukowski photo bukowski_zps1388b61e.jpg

In 1969, publisher John Martin offered to pay Charles Bukowski $100 each and every month for the rest of his life, on one condition: that he quit his job at the post office and become a writer. 49-year-old Bukowski did just that, and in 1971 his first novel, Post Office, was published by Martin's Black Sparrow Press.
15 years later, Bukowski wrote the following letter to Martin and spoke of his joy at having escaped full time employment.
Hello John:
Thanks for the good letter. I don't think it hurts, sometimes, to remember where you came from. You know the places where I came from. Even the people who try to write about that or make films about it, they don't get it right. They call it "9 to 5." It's never 9 to 5, there's no free lunch break at those places, in fact, at many of them in order to keep your job you don't take lunch. Then there's OVERTIME and the books never seem to get the overtime right and if you complain about that, there's another sucker to take your place.
You know my old saying, "Slavery was never abolished, it was only extended to include all the colors."
And what hurts is the steadily diminishing humanity of those fighting to hold jobs they don't want but fear the alternative worse. People simply empty out. They are bodies with fearful and obedient minds. The color leaves the eye. The voice becomes ugly. And the body. The hair. The fingernails. The shoes. Everything does.
As a young man I could not believe that people could give their lives over to those conditions. As an old man, I still can't believe it. What do they do it for? Sex? TV? An automobile on monthly payments? Or children? Children who are just going to do the same things that they did?
Early on, when I was quite young and going from job to job I was foolish enough to sometimes speak to my fellow workers: "Hey, the boss can come in here at any moment and lay all of us off, just like that, don't you realize that?"
They would just look at me. I was posing something that they didn't want to enter their minds.
Now in industry, there are vast layoffs (steel mills dead, technical changes in other factors of the work place). They are layed off by the hundreds of thousands and their faces are stunned:
"I put in 35 years..."
"It ain't right..."
"I don't know what to do..."
They never pay the slaves enough so they can get free, just enough so they can stay alive and come back to work. I could see all this. Why couldn't they? I figured the park bench was just as good or being a barfly was just as good. Why not get there first before they put me there? Why wait?
I just wrote in disgust against it all, it was a relief to get the shit out of my system. And now that I'm here, a so-called professional writer, after giving the first 50 years away, I've found out that there are other disgusts beyond the system.
I remember once, working as a packer in this lighting fixture company, one of the packers suddenly said: "I'll never be free!"
One of the bosses was walking by (his name was Morrie) and he let out this delicious cackle of a laugh, enjoying the fact that this fellow was trapped for life.
So, the luck I finally had in getting out of those places, no matter how long it took, has given me a kind of joy, the jolly joy of the miracle. I now write from an old mind and an old body, long beyond the time when most men would ever think of continuing such a thing, but since I started so late I owe it to myself to continue, and when the words begin to falter and I must be helped up stairways and I can no longer tell a bluebird from a paperclip, I still feel that something in me is going to remember (no matter how far I'm gone) how I've come through the murder and the mess and the moil, to at least a generous way to die.
To not to have entirely wasted one's life seems to be a worthy accomplishment, if only for myself.
yr boy,
Think about it: When you look back at your life, what’s one (or two, or three) things you want to accomplish? Just something to think about while you enjoy the weekend! Make it incredible. xx
Sources: Letter via Letters of Note, Images 1 & 2


  1. Brillant and well put together post and put together just at the right time for me. Lately and especially since I'm 4 months shy of turning 31 I've been thinking alot about where I want my life to go. For some reason I think the next 5 years are really crucial and that big decisions (such as marriage, babies and career) should be made really soon, so that the life I truly want starts to be carved and planned out and perhaps takes shape.

    I would love to walk away from my job right now but there is some college debt to pay off and money to be saved so instead, I'll focus on an 18 month plan instead. :)

    As for the three things I'd like to accomplish - mmm this is harder to conjure up than I thought, but I think something along the following would be wonderful;
    - Be my own boss and own my own business
    - Lose my fear of travel. I get scared travelling abroad on my own, that something crazy like an earthquake will happen. Silly I know!

    Anyways, a long comment I realise, but like I said, the post resonated with me. :)x

  2. Wow this was very inspiring, thanks for sharing. I often think about sacking off the 9-5 lifestyle, but I know I'm not in a position to do so but one day I will be :)

    1. I'm in the same boat! Trying to put together a good plan of attack to one day make the transition. It's hard and definitely daunting to take on... but mannn, it's the stuff my daydreams are made of!

      You just have to know that you CAN! (and oh yes, you can:)

  3. Wow, what an amazing story.

    I dream of leaving the nine to five, but I dream of living on a farm where I work to feed my family with the food I grow myself. That's my dream.

  4. This story and post were so inspiring! Thanks for sharing girl! :)
    xo TJ