Discovering A Way of Life That Harmonizes with Your True Self
Monday May 29, 2023

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“Every [wo]man is the sum total of his[/her] reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different [wo]man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on… 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? How could we ever hope to accomplish anything… The answer, then, must not deal with goals at all… We do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES. But don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean that we can’t BE firemen, bankers, or doctors…but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal… Beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life.” —Hunter S. Thompson at age 20, written in a letter to a friend in 1958

The birds chirp. The pups nap. The breeze is soft and the newly green leaves on all of the herbaceous plants, deciduous trees, shrubs and rambling roses dance with the butterflies that have returned to the garden.

To have described to you this life I love living and savor having the opportunity to do so is a life in detail I could not have fathomed as a younger woman; however, the notes of what spoke to me then rhyme with what I am experiencing today. After all, to have known what the world and what the economic offerings would be was impossible, but what is possible is listening to ourselves as we journey throughout our days.

What speaks to you? What instantly lights up your eyes when you come across it, for no other reason than pure curiosity and wonder? What do you wish to know more about or see with your own eyes? Even if it turns out different than you might have imagined, that is a gift as it reveals to you what speaks to you, what energizes you, what sparks more energy or drains the limited energy you have within on any given day.

Thompson states that as our experiences multiply and differ from what we imagined they might be or we have different responses than our peers or other generations have had, if we listen to this insight, it guides us in a wise way even if we don’t know where we are heading, because it is not so much about the destination, but rather how we travel, and to travel while taking in all of what life presents to us, choosing to explore, choosing to heed the yearnings, the curiosities, we begin to travel a journey that becomes more and more in line with our true self.

We sometimes design our lives in our mind’s eye at a very early age before the experiences that will unearth truths to be learned about ourselves are even known. And so it was with Hunter S.Thompson’s words to his friend, so prescient at such a young age that remind us to move like water rather than be rigid like stone. After all, running water shapes stone; the river is the traveler, the wanderer, the journey person who discovers, an active participant, while the rock is acted upon, the passive bystander. Be the former. Be the river. Sometimes you will flow wildly, sometimes you will slow to a crawl and meander, sometimes it will be a straight and clear voyage ahead and sometimes it will be dramatic and awesome in what is experienced. Be like the river.

Thompson goes on to write in his letter to his friend,

“In short, [s]he has not dedicated his[/her] life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but [s]he has rather chosen a way of life [s]he KNOWS [s]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 [wo]man MUST function in a pattern of his[/her] own choosing; for to let another [wo]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 [wo]man an individual.

The other person, or other [wo]man he refers to that we do not want to function according to their pattern of choosing is our former self, our younger, less knowledgeable of our true selves self, and that is not a knock on who we were, but an acknowledgement that we have grown, and oh, isn’t that wonderful. To know more, to gain more clarity, with these two as our companions, our journey becomes all the more enriched because our choices become our own, truly our own. However, we must choose; that is imperative.

He continues on and warns that we must be active in our lives, to choose rather than, well, I will let his words explain, “A [wo]man who procrastinates in his[her] CHOOSING will inevitably have his[/her] choice made for him[/her] by circumstance.”

Look for a Way of Life

And yet again, he warns about prioritizing goals over honoring our true self, a self that speaks, that is shaped by all of our life experiences and will change and swerve and become a beautiful winding journey that is savored rather than being focused solely on a narrow, particular goal. “But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life. But you say, ‘I don’t know where to look; I don’t know what to look for.’ And there’s the crux. Is it worth giving up what I have to look for something better? I don’t know—is it? Who can make that decision but you? But even by DECIDING TO LOOK, you go a long way toward making the choice.”

And with that, have a wonderful Monday. If it is a bank holiday or Memorial Day that gives you a day off of work, may it be what you wish it to be, and if it is the start of your work week as it is mine, it is my home that you are engaged in what you love doing in any large or small way that shares your true self with the world.

Thank you for stopping by. Bonne journée.



18 thoughts on “Discovering A Way of Life That Harmonizes with Your True Self

  1. Shannon, I love the way your pups are included in your life in so many ways…
    They really are our family.

  2. I can’t believe you quoted Hunter S. Thompson and it was apropos…and not profane. I am not a fan of his, but I have never read these excerpts. Just wonderful. Thank you for giving me a different glimpse of a complicated man.

    1. Cara,

      Thank you for sharing this truth. Yes, he was a complicated man as he life unfolded. This quote captured my attention back in January and I have been wanting to share it. What amazes me is how young he was to have such insight into what is a largely held truth by many in the mindfulness community, authors and philosophers well regarded in their fields and far more advanced in age than he at the age of 20. I appreciate your stopping by and your comment.

  3. Your post sings to me as I continue on with the changes that “retirement” have brought out in me! I am becoming more me as I have more time to be open to my dormant interests. Now, allowing myself to be intrigued with a hint of an idea, I explore. Some things work, and some things don’t. Opening a door (and stepping through) is the fun of each new day.


  4. I love this so much, Shannon! I’ve spent so much time striving to be this, that, or the other over the course of my life. But the times I’ve been most at peace were all when I was being myself/not striving for a certain result. It never ceases to surprise me how much easier life is when we turn our gaze inward on how we can be the best versions of ourselves, as opposed to outward on what we think we should do/want/have/be. What a beautiful reminder to ponder on this holiday morning!

  5. What a lovely reflection on how we shape our lives! I often think, “is there something better that I could be doing?”. The Hunter S. Thompson excerpts and your reflections spoke to me by telling me to look for growth and change, more of a metamorphosis, instead of a complete upheaval of my life in order to find true contentment. I will be pondering this all day today during the holiday. Thank you for a great post and a wonderful way to start the week. Happy Monday!

  6. Darling Ms. Nelle has clearly been living her true self from birth I think. That face, those inquisitive eyes tell a tale of a young lady comfortable with her choices. I strongly believe that dogs pick us, not the other way around. That said, Hunter S Thompson has never been an author I would have considered profound for your topic today but shame on me, he is. Your ability to string the ideas of someone as “complicated” as he was to a topic like the one shared today reveals your skill to look beyond the obvious and bring us some insight into the thought process of a brilliant young man. Our path in life, no matter how perfectly planned, often veers off into unknown and sometimes painful directions. While my chosen profession was indeed my calling, owning a bookstore or considering a few other careers linger in the back of my wee brain. You make me think Shannon, and that is such a good thing.

    1. Lucy, I appreciate your words and your contemplativeness. We are kindred spirits in many ways. 🙂 A bookstore – a lovely idea that if it has been tickling your mind for a while is definitely something to explore. Perhaps, begin by traveling to Scotland where you can rent (vacation rental) a bookshop for a week or so – literally room, board and running the shop – to see how you like it. Shaun Bethel talks about it in his books – his memoirs about running a bookshop as there are many in this town of Wigtown, and one near his is just such a place. Learn more about it here –

      1. Smiling here Shannon, I suspect that Shaun Bethel’s books have likely fed my passion a bit.

  7. Shannon~

    This past weekend, although busy, was spent doing all the things I enjoy: gardening, cooking, spending time with family and friends, dining al fresco, and long walks with Abigail, all along to a soundtrack of birdsong amongst the trees. Oh, if only every day could be as sweet. I think of all the time wasted trying to fit into a box created by what I thought I wanted my life to consist of. Looking back, I allowed myself to be so preoccupied with the tele, doing what others were doing, and thinking everything had to be perfect all of the time. Fortunately, I am discovering a happy medium along this winding journey of mine.

    Have a wonderful week!


  8. You spoke to me and made me smile, as this is what I have done for myself, living as my true self. In my late fifties, I realized my life had been one of reaction. One of constant adjusting to what others had wanted, what I thought others wanted from me. Always setting goals, but never living, never becoming my true self. When I stopped reacting and instead started to reflect, I then realized that I had not become the woman I had wished. The woman I thought I was. It has been a long journey; I am now in my mid-sixties and no longer searching for goals but living daily creating the life I wish. Sometimes life takes us on journeys that we do not wish, sometimes we let life take us on journeys that we wish we had not followed. By accepting what has been, opens doors to what can be. That is what I have done, I opened the door and found life to be glorious. I found my true self and it happily turns out; I like her.

    1. Cynthia,

      Thank you so much for sharing your journey and the insights and ahas you learned along the way. I am moved by what you shared and happy that you have found and are embracing your true self. What a gift to give yourself. 🙂 Your sharing how when we accept what has been being the key to opening new doors is true and a powerful aha to realize. Thank you for sharing your wisdom so that we might learn from it. xo

  9. This article goes to favorites! So many good and important questions to ask ourselves and thank you, Shannon, for sharing them with us!

  10. I love the ethos behind this post, Shannon. Focusing on living well and enjoying a life you want to live, rather than on goals to achieve (though it is always a good idea to have some goals) is likely to end in a life of success either way. And, by just focusing on living each day in the best way that suits us, who knows what new goals/opportunities will be brought our way!
    What a wise 20 year old Thompson was, I certainly wasn’t so wise at that age.

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