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Hunter Thompson on How to Find Your Purpose & Meaning in Life
Old 05-07-2014, 07:54 AM   #1
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Hunter Thompson on How to Find Your Purpose & Meaning in Life

We spend a great deal of time here discussing financial independence. That's obvious and necessary, of course. Without FI there is no RE.

But the other echo ever present in the room has to do with life itself, and how we live it. Here is a letter from Hunter S. Thompson with what I thought was some great advice.

20-Year-Old Hunter S. Thompson’s Superb Advice on How to Find Your Purpose and Live a Meaningful Life | Brain Pickings

Disclaimer: I love motorcycles. Hunter S. Thompson loved motorcycles. I might be biased.

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Old 05-07-2014, 09:26 AM   #2
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As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal) he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).

In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life — the definitive act of will which makes a man an individual.
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I’m not trying to send you out “on the road” in search of Valhalla, but merely pointing out that it is not necessary to accept the choices handed down to you by life as you know it. There is more to it than that — no one HAS to do something he doesn’t want to do for the rest of his life.
Wise words. After spending the first 15 years of my adult life pursuing education and then gainful employment, I found myself in a bit of an existential crisis. I never really identified closely with what I did for a living, but there was certainly a small step down from "I am..." to "I used to be...".

And then comes the question of what's next for me in my final two thirds of life? That bolded line speaks to what I'm loosely aiming for during the rest of my life: potential.

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potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development)
Not setting artificial constraints on one's own life or acquiescing to those constraints handed down by others. This sounds like hogwash, but I can't be content merely thinking outside the box. I want to examine why the box is there in the first place, and think about why the box is so box-like (and what makes it box-like). Maybe I can pull a few others outside of the box with me, where we can build a sphere or dodecahedron or icosahedron or whatever suits our fancies.

I don't know if I'll ever figure out "the meaning of life" but death will be the only thing that can stop my pursuit of that knowledge.
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Old 05-07-2014, 10:06 AM   #3
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Gee--pretty good writing. Hope he didn't end up blowing his brains out with a shotgun or something.
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Old 05-07-2014, 10:07 AM   #4
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Gee--pretty good writing. Hope he didn't end up blowing his brains out with a shotgun or something.
+1

The guy had it all figured out, so no way would he have done something stupid like that.

Note: Anyone see any irony in the name of the referenced blog?
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Old 05-07-2014, 10:23 AM   #5
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+1

The guy had it all figured out, so no way would he have done something stupid like that.

Note: Anyone see any irony in the name of the referenced blog?
From Wikipedia:
"While suffering a bout of health problems, Thompson committed suicide at the age of 67"

"Thompson died at Owl Farm, his "fortified compound" in Woody Creek, Colorado, at 5:42 p.m. on February 20, 2005, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head."
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Old 05-07-2014, 11:20 AM   #6
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From Wikipedia:
... self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head."
The reason for my note...
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Old 05-07-2014, 01:13 PM   #7
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+1

The guy had it all figured out, so no way would he have done something stupid like that.

Note: Anyone see any irony in the name of the referenced blog?

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Old 05-07-2014, 04:18 PM   #8
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Thanks for bumping the thread.

"Should you float with the tide or swim for something?" Perhaps a question that I need to ask my nephew.
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Old 05-07-2014, 06:33 PM   #9
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Okay...too preachy a post, so I'll just delete it and say that I enjoyed reading of Thompson's antics when I was young, but may choose not to model my life and philosophy on his.
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Old 05-07-2014, 08:25 PM   #10
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Okay.......I enjoyed reading of Thompson's antics when I was young, but may choose not to model my life and philosophy on his.
+1

But still love this HST quote-

" Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "Holy Sh%t, What a Ride!"

(OK, perhaps originally from professional motorcycle racer Bill McKenna & abridged over the years. But still most often attributed to HST ).
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Old 05-07-2014, 08:57 PM   #11
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Okay...too preachy a post, so I'll just delete it and say that I enjoyed reading of Thompson's antics when I was young, but may choose not to model my life and philosophy on his.

Lots of very interesting and talented people, from Hemingway to Hendrix, have also had self-destructive and neurotic tendencies.
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Old 05-07-2014, 09:13 PM   #12
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Lots of very interesting and talented people, from Hemingway to Hendrix, have also had self-destructive and neurotic tendencies.
Agreed. Very talented, productive, interesting people. It's not a prerequisite, though.
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Old 05-07-2014, 09:16 PM   #13
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+1

But still love this HST quote-

" Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "Holy Sh%t, What a Ride!"
Great quote. Reminds me of the brothers Garth and Hub in "Secondhand Lions."
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Old 05-07-2014, 10:50 PM   #14
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I've admired HST's work for over 40 years, especially his way of capturing his place in a moment in time. His quote at age 20 wonderfully captures the both the optimism and the discomfiture a world full of choices can present.

Another famous quote of his succinctly captures how these choices can narrow to a single point nearly 50 years later:

"No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun – for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax – This won’t hurt."

RIP Hunter
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Old 05-08-2014, 12:31 PM   #15
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I only meant to do it for two years. I guess the band would just disperse one day and say goodbye. I would continue to write and sing, but I'd rather be dead than sing Satisfaction when I'm 45. Mick Jagger, 1975.
Well we all should get the chance to change our minds. I may have agreed with the "holy sh%t what a ride" thing a couple decades ago, but now I am into the well preserved body thing. I prefer a slower life now with minimal physical ailments as I don't like pain.




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Old 05-08-2014, 04:30 PM   #16
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Gee--pretty good writing. Hope he didn't end up blowing his brains out with a shotgun or something.
+2. Good quote, if you don't know if his demise.
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Old 05-08-2014, 04:37 PM   #17
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The motorcycle mojo was always strong with him. For pure thrill or threaded in as symbolism>


“Some people will tell you that slow is good – but I’m here to tell you that fast is better. I’ve always believed this, in spite of the trouble it’s caused me. Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba…”
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Old 05-08-2014, 08:28 PM   #18
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Lots of very interesting and talented people, from Hemingway to Hendrix, have also had self-destructive and neurotic tendencies.
Which is all the more reason to perhaps enjoy their art (at least in the case of Hendrix) but ignore anything of their philosophy of life. Better to go with Casey Stengel or Yogi Berra.

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Old 05-08-2014, 08:30 PM   #19
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I only meant to do it for two years. I guess the band would just disperse one day and say goodbye. I would continue to write and sing, but I'd rather be dead than sing Satisfaction when I'm 45. Mick Jagger, 1975.
Well we all should get the chance to change our minds. I may have agreed with the "holy sh%t what a ride" thing a couple decades ago, but now I am into the well preserved body thing. I prefer a slower life now with minimal physical ailments as I don't like pain.




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Old 05-08-2014, 08:33 PM   #20
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Which is all the more reason to perhaps enjoy their art (at least in the case of Hendrix) but ignore anything of their philosophy of life. Better to go with Casey Stengel or Yogi Berra.

Ha

Ya, we are all getting to the point in life where Mickey Mantles quote is more applicable.... "If I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself."


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