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In 1994, Charles Bukowski was buried in a Los Angeles cemetery, in ~ a an easy gravestone. The rock memorializes the poet’s name. The recites his days of birth and also death, yet adds the price of a boxer between the two, saying his life was a struggle. And it adds the really succinct epitaph, “Don’t Try.”

There you have actually it, Bukowski’s approach on art and also life boiled down to two words. However what do they mean? Let’s look ago at the epistolary record and find out.

You are watching: Don't work too hard meaning

In October 1963, Bukowski recounted in a letter to john William Corrington just how someone when asked him, “What execute you do? how do friend write, create?” come which, he replied: “You don’t try. That’s an extremely important: ‘not’ come try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and also if nothing happens, you wait some more. It’s like a an insect high on the wall. You wait because that it to pertained to you. When it it s okay close sufficient you with out, slap out and kill it. Or if you favor its looks you do a pet the end of it.”


So, the vital to life and art, it’s all about persistence? Patience? Timing? wait for her moment? Yes, yet not simply that.

Jumping front to 1990, Bukowski sent out a letter come his friend William Packard and reminded him: “We occupational too hard. We try too hard. Don’t try. Don’t work. It’s there. It’s to be looking best at us, aching to kick the end of the closed womb. There’s been too much direction. It’s all free, we needn’t be told. Classes? Classes are for asses. Writing a city is as straightforward as beating your meat or drinking a bottle of beer.”

The key to living a good life, come creating an excellent art — it’s also around not over-thinking things, or muscling our means through. It’s about letting our talents appear, almost jedi-style. Or is it?

In 2005, Mike Watt (bass player because that the Minutemen, fIREHOSE, and also the Stooges) interviewed Linda Bukowski, the poet’s wife, and also asked she to set the document straight. Here’s your exchange.

Watt: What’s the story: “Don’t Try”? Is that from that piece he wrote?

Linda: check out those big quantities of books? They’re called Who’s who In America. It’s everybody, artists, scientists, whatever. Therefore he was in there and they asked him to do a little thing around the books he’s written and also duh, duh, duh, duh, duh. In ~ the really end lock say, is there anything you wanna say, you know, what is your viewpoint of life, and some world would create a huge long thing. A dissertation, and also some human being would simply go on and on. And Hank just put, “Don’t Try.” Now, for you, what execute you think that means?

Watt: Well because that me it constantly meant choose be natural.

Linda: Yeah, yeah.

Watt: no like…being lazy!

Linda: Yeah, I obtain so plenty of different concepts from people that don’t recognize what that means. Well, “Don’t Try? just be a slacker? put back?” and also I’m no! Don’t try, do. Since if you’re spending her time make the efforts something, you’re not doing it…”DON’T TRY.”

It’s Monday. Gain out there. Just do it. Yet patiently. And also don’t rest a sweat.

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