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Beer Break: ‘Find What You Love and Let It Kill You’

Welcome to another installment of an occasional series I call “Beer Break.” Rather than diving deeply into another object of my fanaticism, I instead kick back with a beer (or several) and write briefly about something I love without exhaustively explaining why.

It’s a pause, a respite, a recess from the time and energy I typically spend on these entries. Unlike my usual lengthy commentaries, “Beer Break” is more of a vignette in which I pithily pay tribute to a favorite drink, quote, song, poem, whatever.

This one involves a meme of Charles Bukowski and one of his famous quotes (the second “Beer Break” to feature him). The saying is also one of the drivers behind “A Fan’s Notes.”

About 11 years ago, when I was working for The Daily News in Memphis, I stumbled upon the photo of Bukowski standing in a rundown kitchen with a beer in his hand and cigarette in his mouth and these words pasted below: “Find what you love and let it kill you.”

I instantly became a fan of the saying, so I printed the meme and stuck it on my cubicle wall reminding me to do just that. I somehow have a photo of it pinned above my desk.

The meme tacked to my cubicle, a reminder to do just that.

I later investigated this quote further and discovered there’s a bit more to the passage. Here’s the quote in full:

My Dear,
Find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain you of your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you and let it devour your remains. For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover.

-Falsely yours
Charles Bukowski

Several Bukowski scholars insist he never said or wrote those words, but does that matter?

What’s important is the sentiment: Finding what you love and pouring your heart and soul into it not because you make money or earn fame but because not doing it would crush you little by little until you find yourself near the end of your life wondering why you didn’t pursue it with everything you have and with everything you are.

In other words, just fucking do it. Find what you love and let it kill you. Don’t let the drudgery of life have that honor. Who wouldn’t be a fan of that?

With that, I’m on break, but during this recess, I’ll do the things I love—the things I’m a fan of—whether that’s writing, enjoying the outdoors, traveling, drinking beer, listening to good tunes, finding new experiences or spending as much time as possible with friends and family.

If any of those things kill me, I’ll count my life as a success. I hope you do the same.


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