I closed my eyes and listened to the waves. Thousands of fish out there, eating each other. Endless mouths and assholes swallowing and shitting. The whole earth was nothing but mouths and assholes swallowing and shitting and fucking. – Charles Bukowski, Ham On Rye
Charles Bukowski was an America poet and novelist. This is not the first time we’ve quoted Ham On Rye, which for our money is one of America’s most thoughtful and entertaining books.
Bukowski makes a pretty good point, actually. All we really have to do is eat and sleep and reproduce. This is all Mother Nature really requires of us. Everything else is adornment added by us.
A lot of these adornments are due to outside influences. We see something on a show or an advertisement and we want it. We see wealthy people on tee vee and movies and we want that, too. Pretty soon we want so many things we are no longer living from the inside, we are spending our time reacting to outside influences. The talents and ambitions were born with are forgotten or ignored. This is in nobody’ interest. It’s not in the individual’s interest because a person not living the life he was meant to live is not happy. He might think he is, but deep down he isn’t. A society with enough people off-kilter like this is itself off-kilter and not getting the most out of its collective talents.
The whole earth was nothing but mouths and assholes swallowing and shitting and fucking
Survival, both individually and collectively, is the only real goal for all living things. It’s why hunger and sex drive are our two dominant desires. As humans – unlike, say, the family cat – we aim for more than mere survival. The key to the well-lived life is to be careful what we aim for. We must aim for something that comes from the very core of our being. All of us can do something well because all of us were born with certain talents and ambitions and both individuals and society benefit when we utilize our talents.
It’s not easy. It takes courage to follow our hearts, but it is the only way to ensure a life well spent, a life where our time serves us, instead of us merely serving time.