nor loved for some time, I swat
at a fly and miss, I am an
old grey dog growing toothless.
I have a typewriter and now
my typewriter no longer has
anything to say.
I will drink until morning
finds me in bed with the
biggest whore of them all:
- Charles Bukowski
Time, as a concept, is unbiased. You could give two or more people the same period of time to do an activity and you would get different outcomes. Also, two people with the same lifespan and similar life opportunities would often have different tales woven around them at the end of their lives. It seems time, as important as it is, is not as vital as the actions performed within its framework.
In this era, we always seem not to have enough time to do all that we want. There is a common feeling that always accompanies the use of time - guilt. The guilt comes from the feeling that we have not used our time wisely enough. For example, there is the feeling of regret at not having made the most of one's talents. A man may sacrifice his talents for the well-being of his family or blame the circumstances of his birth environment for his inability to follow his path, but it won't alleviate the soreness of his loss when he finds himself, at long last, alone as his life limps towards its final destination.
We might even employ talents and do what we can with it, however even this doesn't dispel the question - did I do the utmost with what I have? Did I make most of the opportunities that came my way?
The fear of expiring, in relation to your work, is one of the themes explored by Charles Bukowski in one of his previously unpublished poems, I Think of Hemingway. The poem is part of a collection of similar previous unpublished works titled Storm for the Living and the Dead: Uncollected and Unpublished Poems, now published by HarperCollins. In a classic Bukowski style, a lot of the poems in this collections are gritty and observational. If you are looking for flowery language with answers to life's problems, then this collection is not for you.
In the poem, I Think of Hemingway, Bukowski observes the feelings that follow the inability to work on what you enjoy, due to old age or other circumstances. He writes about the feeling of shame and helplessness that follows in its wake.
By all accounts, the dread of not doing enough, not fulfilling your potential, the terror of old age, is something that happens to most. However, there are no easy answers. Each of us must decide how to deal with this on a day to day basis. We must make decisions as to what jobs we take up, the nature of invitations we turn down, what kind of town we want to live in, and what manner of activities we fill our spare time with. In short, we all must make choices we can live with (or die with) as the clock counts down to our earthly departure.
Many thanks to HarperCollins for review copy.