Thursday, November 16, 2006

"How to Live" by Charles Harper Webb, from Amplified Dog.

How to Live

"I don't know how to live."
–Sharon Olds

Eat lots of steak and salmon and Thai curry and mu shu
pork and fresh green beans and baked potatoes
and fresh strawberries with vanilla ice cream.
Kick-box three days a week. Stay strong and lean.
Go fly-fishing every chance you get, with friends

who'll teach you secrets of the stream. Play guitar
in a rock band. Read Dostoyevsky, Whitman, Kafka,
Shakespeare, Twain. Collect Uncle Scrooge comics.
See Peckinpah's Straw Dogs, and everything Monty Python made.
Love freely. Treat ex-partners as kindly

as you can. Wish them as well as you're able.
Snorkel with moray eels and yellow tangs. Watch
spinner dolphins earn their name as your panga slam-
bams over glittering seas. Try not to lie; it sours
the soul. But being a patsy sours it too. If you cause

a car wreck, and aren't hurt, but someone is, apologize
silently. Learn from your mistake. Walk gratefully
away. Let your insurance handle it. Never drive drunk.
Don't be a drunk, or any kind of "aholic." It's bad
English, and bad news. Don't berate yourself. If you lose

a game or prize you've earned, remember the winners
history forgets. Remember them if you do win. Enjoy
success. Have kids if you want and can afford them,
but don't make them your reason-to-be. Spare them that
misery. Take them to the beach. Mail order sea

monkeys once in your life. Give someone the full-on
ass-kicking he (or she) has earned. Keep a box turtle
in good heath for twenty years. If you get sick, don't thrive
on suffering. There's nothing noble about pain. Die
if you need to, the best way you can. (You define best.)

Go to church if it helps you. Grow tomatoes to put store-
in perspective. Listen to Elvis and Bach. Unless
you're tone deaf, own Perlman's "Meditation from Thais."
Don't look for hidden meanings in a cardinal's song.
Don't think TV characters talk to you; that's crazy.

Don't be too sane. Work hard. Loaf easily. Have good
friends, and be good to them. Be immoderate
in moderation. Spend little time anesthetized. Dive
the Great Barrier Reef. Don't touch the coral. Watch
for sea snakes. Smile for the camera. Don't say "Cheese."


robin andrea said...

Have a blog, fall in love with life, dream something new,
Develop a crush on yourself, look in the mirror and wink, because you already know the secret of everything.

Luise said...

I enjoy your blog. Your sketches are good! And I LOVE what you have as your profession on your profile.
all the best! thanks for sharing!

Luise said...

I enjoy your blog. Your sketches are good! And I LOVE what you have as your profession on your profile.
all the best! thanks for sharing!

Lulu Maude said...

I love CHW. Thanks for this post.

It's a great exercise, isn't it?

TDharma said...

this post was / is a real tonic for me today. Thanks for posting it! I'm a bit on the edge myself these days, and have found that walking the dogs help a lot. Especially when the tide is low and we can scramble on the beach.

I also indulged in a wonderul hot tub at Well Within last week. Ahhhh....

Be well.

Sarah said...

Have just found your blog by accident and wanted to say how pleased I am to come here. This poem is great. Will re-read it and see something different every time I suspect, and it makes me want to write my own version!

The Fat Lady Sings said...

Well that's just about the best advice on living live that I've ever heard! Mail order sea monkeys once in your life. You know - as a kid I always wanted to do just that. And an ant farm - I wanted an ant farm. Perhaps it’s important to finally get that Chatty Cathy doll after all.