I was watching a YouTube video in which Jack Nicholson received the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award. I didn’t look at the video by accident, though. I watched “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” two days ago, which led me to look into Nicholson’s long career and see why he is just so cool. The shades, the voice, the demeanor — there is nobody like the guy.
So, in the video I watched, Dustin Hoffman said a few kind words about his acting friend. But rather than go off the cuff, he quoted a poem by Charles Baudelaire titled “Be Drunk.” I don’t know how I never heard of it before, but I’m glad I did. And I wanted to pass it along to all of you so that maybe it will have the same profound impact:
You have to be always drunk. That’s all there is to it—it’s the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk.
But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk.
And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking. . .ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: “It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish.”