30 Lessons for a Life on the Edge from Hunter S. Thompson

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He spent a year living with the notorious Hell’s Angels during the ‘60s before writing a book about it. He took a drug-fueled road trip to Vegas that became the novel that launched him to fame as a gonzo journalist. He loved motorcycles and guns, but hated any and all authority. Hunter S. Thompson’s life was a wild ride — and his death (per his request, his ashes were fired from a cannon). Today would have been the author’s birthday, and we’re celebrating his badassery with a few life lessons shared by Thompson about living life on the edge. Read at your own risk.

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

“Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men’s reality. Weird heroes and mould-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of ‘the rat race’ is not yet final.”

“Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”

Luck is a very thin wire between survival and disaster, and not many people can keep their balance on it.”

“There is nothing more helpless and irresponsible than a man in the depths of an ether binge.”

“There are many harsh lessons to be learned from the gambling experience, but the harshest one of all is the difference between having Fun and being Smart.”

“‘Crazy‘ is a term of art; ‘Insane’ is a term of law. Remember that, and you will save yourself a lot of trouble.”

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!'”

“So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”

“Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.”

“The Edge… There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others — the living — are those who pushed their luck as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later.”

“Let us toast to animal pleasures, to escapism, to rain on the roof and instant coffee, to unemployment insurance and library cards, to absinthe and good-hearted landlords, to music and warm bodies and contraceptives… and to the “good life”, whatever it is and wherever it happens to be.”

“Some may never live, but the crazy never die.”

“If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.”

“Too weird to live, too rare to die!”

“I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.”

“Good people drink good beer.”

Freedom is something that dies unless it’s used.”

“Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas … with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether.”

“The greatest mania of all is passion: and I am a natural slave to passion: the balance between my brain and my soul and my body is as wild and delicate as the skin of a Ming vase.”

“For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled.”

“Walk tall, kick ass, learn to speak Arabic, love music and never forget you come from a long line of truth seekers, lovers and warriors.”

“Some people will tell you that slow is good — but I’m here to tell you that fast is better. I’ve always believed this, in spite of the trouble it’s caused me. Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba… ”

“A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.”

“A word to the wise is infuriating.”

“To make a point of declaring friendship is to cheapen it. For men’s emotions are very rarely put into words successfully.”

“With the truth so dull and depressing, the only working alternative is wild bursts of madness and filigree.”

“I understand that fear is my friend, but not always. Never turn your back on Fear. It should always be in front of you, like a thing that might have to be killed. My father taught me that, along with a few other things that have kept my life interesting.”

“Morality is temporary, wisdom is permanent.”