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22 Year Old Hunter S. Thompson Writes Brilliant Letter to Advice Seeking Friend

Getty – Frazer Harrison

It may be the most sensible thing I’ve ever read from Hunter Thompson.

The self proclaimed ‘gonzo’ journalist left us with many gems, but I was shocked when I read the sensibility in this letter that he wrote to a friend looking for advice.

It comes from a book called ‘Letter of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience

In this letter, Thompson is 22 years old, and sounds like he is a wizened old man. Maybe he was. Maybe his understanding of perspective is what made him such a great writer.

His friend is looking for guidance. Like, ‘What should I do with my life?’ type guidance. Thompson answers masterfully. Here is part of his reply.

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.

Reading it, I have to believe that Thompson knew his Emerson.

What did you think of the excerpt?

 

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