Hunter S. Thompson

This last Saturday, August 20th, the ashes of Hunter S. Thompson, author and founder of Gonzo Journalism, were shot out of a canon on his ranch near Aspen, Colorado. The Expedition4am Crew was in the area, but the event was "by invite only" and our high-powered contacts failed to come through for us. Typical. The family and organizers obviously knew who was and was not "riff-raff” can probably guess which list we were on.

Rather than talk about an event we didn't get invited to, and missed entirely because we were busy playing in the wilderness, I want to discuss something I call "surrendering to life."

Surrendering to life is just as it sounds... the opposite of "Attacking Life." It's the point in life where the weight of your responsibilities becomes greater than your energy to deal with them and still live a wild lifestyle.

Youthful spirit is slowly eroded by things like your job, your spouse, your mortgage, your kids. A lot of people refer to this as "settling down." My mom used this phrase when talking about my less stable friends, "If he would just find a nice girl and settle down." Her tone always made it sound like settling down was the ultimate goal in life. As if once settled down a person would magically reach a social nirvana of sorts.

That's bullshit. First off, the second you succumb to settling down, you've committed yourself to a slow death sentence. No longer are you out all hours of the night. No longer are you hanging with your friends. No longer is the most important thing on your schedule the next concert, road trip, outdoor adventure, (insert favorite fun thing here).

I don't like the term Settling Down, because it simply isn't strong enough. I prefer the term Surrendering to Life. It implies that you've put up the fight of youth, you've waved the white flag, thrown up your hands, and given in. Life, as you have lived it, is over.

If you are in your 20's, chances are good you will slowly begin to surrender to life.

Don't get me wrong. Getting married, having a job, rearing children, buying a home... these are noble endeavors. But they WILL change you. And you cannot avoid the change!

In today's American Society most of us get married sometime in our twenties and begin amassing these aforementioned responsibilities. Slowly our focus shifts from events and activities we enjoy so dearly, to responsibilities which are necessary in one way or another. Then one day you find yourself trying to ”make time” for the things you used to enjoy so freely.

The slow death of youthful energy is what I am talking about. Biologically, we emerge from puberty with a raw and almost limitless energy for life. One way or another we've left the nest and are eager to spread our wings. We light up the town every night, we seek out adventure, we enjoy the company of our best and wildest friends. My dad used to call this "being full of piss and vinegar"...and it's a great time in life!

For some people this period lasts longer than others. They never amass the responsibilities of someone in their middle age, possibly avoiding them intentionally, or they simply refuse to let go of the youthful spirit, clinging to it like an old ratty teddy bear. Sure staying youthful is all very nice, but there’s also something wrong with the extreme of entirely avoiding responsibilities. At the very least you should get a job, you bum!

Speaking from the perspective of a person in his mid 30's, I will say that the people I most admire are those who assume the responsibilities yet refuse to surrender to life. Yes they have the job, yes they bought a house and married the spouse... heck they may even have a kid or two... but they still reserve some time each week to do the things that make them feel alive. Perhaps they buy plane tickets and fly someplace for the weekend. Maybe they still rock climb, hike mountains, or run rivers. Maybe they seek out night life once a week, a bit less crazy perhaps, but get out of the house and stay out until the wee morning hours.

Part of growing up is learning to chose your battles wisely.

People in their 40's, 50's and beyond, who still refuse to "surrender to life" are my heroes. Ironically, they are often the ones who are most successful in their job and other responsibilities. Why? They didn't crawl into a safe, pathetic little comfort zone and "settle." They kept pushing forward and attacking life... making the most of their time on this planet.

As the Gonzo reporter on this little adventure, I not only have Hunter S. Thompson to thank for the name and the spirit I have been entrusted with, but I feel obligated to impale you with my thoughts on his life. Yes, "impale" you. Why impale... because Hunter Thompson was anything but a subtle man. In his youth he lived hard and threw it all on the line. He savored the energy of being alive; The raw and visceral feeling of being juiced with life (if that meant drugs or guns or booze or motorcycles) was EXTREMELY important to him.

It seems obvious to me that Hunter felt himself surrendering to life. He was getting old, 67, well beyond his time in the limelight and was having health problems. He had lived hard and pushed the boundaries, but those times were gone. Settling, however, was unacceptable in his scheme of the world-- a sin beyond forgiveness. Nothing could be more terrible for a Gonzo Journalist, a Warrior of Life, than to lay down arms and give in to the mundane and ordinary. The word "Surrender" may not have been in his vocabulary! So rather than surrender, he gave the world one last "fuck you!" Out with a bang rather than a whimper-- his terms, his choice, his way.

And what was they guy's final wish? His ashes to be shot out of a canon! Even in death, Hunter Thompson was going to make noise. To me that was Hunter saying "I was HERE and I LIVED!"

Thank you, Hunter S. Thompson. Thanks for kicking ass and living life to the fullest, right up to the moment you squeezed a trigger for the last time. We need more people like you in the world. You were one of my heroes.

The Crew and I would have loved to see your remains shot out of that canon. It would certainly have been fitting to have people like us at your little "going away party." We would have raised our glasses and saluted your spirit. But honestly, those of us still busy attacking life are cool remembering you while doing something crazy and fun. Living life to the fullest is the only proper farewell we can offer.

With that said, I'd like to conclude this rant by bringing it back to the little adventure the Crew and I are on. If nothing else you get out of reading this blog... if nothing else you take away from it, please remember this…

There's a lot of life to be lived in this world-- If you fail to enjoy as much of it as possible, it's your own damn fault.

Assume a few responsibilities as you grow older, but