“as long as you’re alive, live!”, the admiral advised. “you can write later”. the moment when life leaves is not necessarily tantamount to death – but to stagnation as the lack of the unpredictable new. “everybody finds himself sitting at home one day wondering whats left to gain and if that’s really it. this is the sacred moment when you should either commit suicide or start writing a book”. creating the “new” thats no longer offered was the best chance to stay alive, he said, when “most of life lessons are learned, experiences are made, repetition rises towards ultimate divineness”. in his opinion the vast majority of people does nothing like that but follow entrenched habits facing a mechanical simulation of what they still call “life”. the lucky ones are too dumb to realise, he said. 20 year old me was impressed. the admiral sounded wise and right.
he never told me his real name and not much about himself in general. all i know is, that he was a former naval officer who ended up as a homeless dude, living in the park after some “bad decisions”. we had several great and valuable discussions in the early 2000s and i still have to think of him quite regularely. some of his pearls of wisdom were clearly made or caused by alcohol abuse, some still remain. one day he was gone without any warning or indication… i wonder if he’s still alive.
the “sacred moment” he mentioned pretty much is a max-frisch-moment as i found out a few years later: “i say to the american public: life is monotonous, i gain experience only when i write.” (montauk)
i spent many thoughts on every “life lesson” he taught me… on this one i wrote back in 2001: “i think my sacred moment comes in my 40s; when i experienced a completed apprenticeship, earned enough money, had enough sex, travelled enough, experienced fatherhood, marriage and divorce. the moment when kids are old enough to have left parental care already and i am sitting there in my one-room apartment with a bottle of schnaps after having sold the house i once built, facing the shadow side of a bukowski future”. still a future moment though…