The Thought for the Day – Charles Bukowski

I had always been good company for myself. – Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye


Charles Bukowski (1920-94) was a German/American writer and poet and Ham On Rye is a profound book told in the first person by Henry Chinaski, a character of Bukowski’s who is actually his alter ego. Our introduction to this book came entirely by chance, us coming across the manuscript in the Huntington Library in San Marino, California a few feet from a Gutenberg Bible. The manuscript was open to a page where Chinaski is about to get beaten by his father for the first time, a passage we read many times before purchasing the book in the gift shop. As a side note, a column Bukowski once wrote for an underground newspaper in Los Angeles earned him is own FBI file.

It’s not easy to go it alone in this life. People need people. Whether it’s a kid needing his family or a husband needing his wife, very few people are cut out for being alone. It’s the way we humans are built. Heck, we’re cut out for solitude more than most and even we threw up our hands several years ago and got married, unable to further fend for ourselves.  

I had always been good company for myself…

Those that get on in this life either are born with or acquire the capacity to be good company for themselves. This is important because the only way we can be comfortable with others is to be completely comfortable with ourselves. The way to do this is to resist outside influences and take the time to get to know ourselves from the inside out, to find the talents we were born with and to get the most out of them. We must learn to like ourselves despite our myriad faults and imperfections.

We are the only person we will see every day of our lives. Others will come and go, but every day we must look ourselves in the mirror. It’s important we like and are comfortable with what we see.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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