Hunter S. Thompson’s Advice On Finding Purpose

I read this letter from Hunter S. Thompson in the Business Insider. It really touched me because I feel sometimes that I am just floating, directionless, and then beat myself up because of it. I did all the “responsible” adult things such as get married, have kids, and go to college… but I still feel a little lost; like I should be doing more, that I have not proven my worthiness to live…. a waste of life.

Hunter S. Thompson writes, “Think of any decision you’ve ever made which had a bearing on your future: I may be wrong, but I don’t see how it could have been anything but a choice however indirect — between the two things I’ve mentioned: the floating or the swimming.” Swimming toward a goal that could be the “big rock candy mountain” or floating with the tide. Then he names it… “the tragedy of life — is that we seek to understand the goal and not the man [woman].”

He goes on to explain that with each experience, we change. I, as a child, thought I would be a cowgirl. As a teen, I thought I would be a Russian interpreter at the UN. Then I became a wife, a mom, and Muslim and thought I would be a sociologist/writer. Then I went to Nursing school and albeit good at it, it wasn’t fulfilling. The long shifts, overtime, and basically being held against your will until another RN took your shift… I could not reconcile with being a mom; the only one my kids had to look after them. I evolve and change rather rapidly I suppose. Isn’t that what living things do; stagnation is death.

When Hunter queries, “So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day?” and then mentions “galloping neurosis”, I feel liberated!! I am not alive to prove my worthiness. I am worthy by the virtue of being born. My unique quirkiness is validated when he writes… “to put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.”

It is not that we cannot be all those things we want to be,  “but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal.” He goes on to say that we must find our ambition in what marries our desires with our particular talents, gifts, and abilities. It is as Rumi recommends, “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” 

Hunter puts it all in perspective when he tells his friend that a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.” There are only two choices: acceptance or change.  You can read the full letter here.


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