is bullshit, of course.
So there's a Hunter S Thompson quote going around the innertubes, totally out of context, to wit: "In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires— including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter." Usually posted under some heavily filtered picture of some bearded douche staring at the sunset from some promontory with his arms raised in triumph (BTW, when I started this blog there WERE no heavily filtered pictures of bearded douches, all we had were rocks, and we did just fine), dog at his side and growler of shitty beer that looks like it would taste like homemade soap.
... and that's bullshit. It's existential nonsense. And worse. Dishonest. Because it comes from a letter that HST wrote that characteristically wanders way... way down too many rat holes to be considered coherent, but he winds it up pretty well. Here's my selection of the letter that makes for a much better and inspirational quote:
"As I said, 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.
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. In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires— including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter."
A lot of bearded weenies will take this to mean that they too will only matter if they go off and instagram themselves wearing $600 boots and $500 jeans near some trees, 40 feet from a major highway that you can't see because, well, it's behind them. They must go off on some inflated journey of self discovery so that when they die they can convince themselves that they MEANT something, they EXPERIENCED LIFE! But that isn't what he's saying. That's not the pull quote from the letter. It isn't and shouldn't be what men should or need to do.
The message of the letter is foreshadowed by the first half of the quote that usually gets cut by the bearded weenies and inspirational quote mongers, and it's actually the last sentence in the letter:
"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. But then again, if that’s what you wind up doing, by all means convince yourself that you HAD to do it. You’ll have lots of company."
That's inner peace baby. AMEN.