“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”
This is a Charles Bukowski Poem read at the end of Factotum movie that went directly into my bloodstream, traveled the express way into the core of my imagination and planted a seed that though needs nurturing, has never died. Granted I was a couple of drinks in, but I have gone back to it many a time and just re-read and listened to it. Bukowski’s book, Post Office, was what got me back into reading after years of neglect due to a busy job and raising small kids. I find this poem to be absolutely the truth of producing anything real, though I am sure many have done this out of isolation too as any great movie can testify, but remember someone sat alone in a room most likely to write it. The sacrifice that goes into creativity is unbelievably difficult to accept as it can produce a feeling of stagnation when you are not creating and that’s enough for many of us to step back or give it up. Bukowski doused himself in the spirits to be able to function, but he moved forward and left the rest of us a crack in the giant mountain, to hold onto at difficult times and for some of us to possibly get to a higher level.
Due to mostly unknown factors ranging from geograpy to friendships which I later learned to find had no strong bond, personal disappointments that must have affected others in me and slowly moving up in age, though not old yet, I have isolated myself and the struggle to get back into the game of building a social network worth my time is a monumental task. I was never an artist, but always knew I could become one and always felt I needed the space and opportunity. I missed the education and the social network of the group of people whom can enrich the endeavor and now I realize that I was always around talkers and not doers. Maybe that is why I keep going back to this poem. Bukowski was alone for a long time and didn’t waste it on drink but wrote more than most and submitted his poems more than most of his contemporaries while holding a boring full time job.
I guess what I am saying is that most of us have a fear of being alone and though I am truly over that, there are times when it comes and haunts me. I know who I am now and I don’t doubt it will ever go away but I also know that there is power in that isolation and I truly enjoy it. We can’t let ourselves be sucked in by it and define us, because we chose a path that doesn’t rely on what we were taught or accepted. Joy comes first from within and for me that joy is when I am creating (and ofcourse when having a special family moment) and have the courage to do so. It’s always about courage and always will be. The courage to be alone and use that isolation to grow instead of letting it diminish you into something you yourself can’t recognize anymore.
I am not saying to become isolated by choice, because that is a mistake. I am saying, when isolated, don’t let it define you and get out and find social gatherings that help you grow, but find power in that isolation too and utilize it, never forgetting it’s a gift.