Despite what you might believe, you must understand that no matter how low you may be feeling or how much you might be hurting, in the grand scheme of things, you don’t have it so bad. There is always going to be someone who is worse off than you are. There will always be someone who is hurting more–suffering more–than you are or ever will. You must put things in perspective if you are to survive. This is essential, as I’m learning firsthand.
So cheer up, because it’s not the end of the world. Not yet, anyway. Just when you think you’re ready to walk the streets wearing a sandwich board declaring “The End is Nigh” in bold red letters, know that there is light somewhere. Whether it be a smile from a gorgeous girl or a kind word from a close friend who cares, there is light somewhere. Look for it. Know it. Embrace it.
There was a distinguished professor, now deceased, at the University of Arkansas by the name of Dr. Leo Van Scyoc (pronounced “Van Syke”). He was a mentor to my parents, and in all likelihood he was the catalyst for my being named “Hotspur” since he was the one who taught Shakespeare to the both of them (his forearms were as big as Popeye’s, as he was notorious for teaching straight from his edition of The Riverside Shakespeare, holding the humongous tome in one arm as he taught). Dr. Van Scyoc was fond of giving the following advice: “One must retain one’s sense of humor.” I’ve found myself heeding that bit of wisdom more and more in recent years, and I think it just might be the single best piece of advice I’ve ever received.
Speaking of laughing, I’ll leave you tonight with a poem from that brilliant dirty old man, Charles Bukowski. I get so pissed sometimes when people discount Bukowski and write him off as a degenerate, because when he wasn’t busy drinking and gambling and whoring and writing poems and stories that served to reinforce his image as a degenerate, he was crafting some of the most eloquent and accessible poetry ever written about the human heart. This is one of those poems.
The Laughing Heart
your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
And if you’re not much for readin’ poetry, then feel free to give a listen to it being read by Tom Waits, the patron saint of coolness.