“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.
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The Paradox of True Contentment, episode #339