Wake up call

Mental health

‘You can’t beat death/ but you can beat death in life, sometimes’

How cool is this? Charles Bukowski wrote it in 1993. He died in 1994, at the age of 74. A friend sent his poem The Laughing Heart to me this morning, and it illuminated a sentence, or instruction, that has been reverberating around my head these last few days. It says: ‘I cannot help you with your fear of death, but I can try to help you with your fear of life.’

It came in one of those self-speaking-to-the-self moments. You know, that sacred, special ‘inner voice’ that comes to you sometimes? No, it’s not the naggy horrible one, telling you all sorts of lies about yourself. You can call that one the critic, the monkey – you can call it a dick – call it whatever you like: it’s not you. It’s the you that wants you to stop being you (I’m not going to edit that. I know it’s irritating to read, I’m sorry).

Another friend of mine says that suffocating voice is ‘just old childhood tapes’, playing on a loop. She pressed stop on them ages ago. Actually, she pulled out the reels and burnt them. I really listen to her because she seems like a fully evolved person. She’s one of the happiest people I know. She has also suffered the most of anyone else I know.

There is another narrative pulsing within you. It’s very quiet, calm and steady. It tells you things. Important things. How can we find this voice that can help us beat death, sometimes? You just have to get still inside yourself. Slip behind the curtain. There’s meditation, yes. But it could also sneak up on you when you are doing the dishes or walking the dog. Or when you are drifting off to sleep or waking up, and your consciousness is touching something else. Your soul, maybe.

You will know when you hear it because your heart will light up and then, as Charles Bukowski says in the last line of that poem, the Gods will delight in you.