Is an ambition-free life, one ‘free’ of dreams a meaningless one? Is existence completely in the present a purposeless one?
In Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, a man is sentenced to death by firing squad but minutes before he’s shot, he is pardoned. In those minutes expecting his death though, he realises how incredible and eternally beautiful the simplest things are. So doesn’t he have happiness or contentment in life, in and of itself?
Maybe. But in that moment, isn’t his goal to take in those simple things? And in a more unconscious way, is not his goal to somehow have his life extended for as many more minutes, or seconds as possible?
If one has no goals, why not end it all, right then and there? If someone is just content with everything there right there at that moment, doesn’t that imply that everything in the future is meaningless and therefore you should just jump into a shark-frequented ocean, with multiple salamis tied to your arms and legs and attached to each ear, and just hang around out there, treading water until something interesting happens? Perhaps goals (and dreams?) are what make us human? And are the fundamental things that make life (human life?) so inspiring, and so beautiful in the way that Dostoyevsky’s condemned character sees it?
So what’s Bukowski got to do with it?*
Maybe change, growth, development, challenge, drive, goals, dreams, and always moving forward are also what make life sweet. Staying still may also inherently contradict the laws of nature (that everything changes), and therefore not only be unnatural, but no way to live The Good Life.
And here’s a great song that’s sort of about him, by Modest fucking brilliant Mouse.
*Inspired by one of my students.