Sunday, March 19, 2006


“Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

Those of you familiar with Hunter Thompson are likely familiar with the quote – which comes, if memory serves me correctly, from his most known piece, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” But, hopefully, even those of you who aren’t familiar with Dr. Thompson find a certain truth in those words.

The first time I read those words – and, beyond that, probably the first dozen times I read those words – the meaning was this: If you want to walk on the edge of life, be prepared to fall off the cliff. Because Thompson walked on the edge. It was where he was the most comfortable, and in his own way, it was where I think he wanted to ultimately see all of if from. Because you can see a lot of really fantastic things from the edge.

But right now, tonight, I feel like there’s an entirely different take to that quote. And I’m not sure if it’s one that Thompson intended and I’ve been too thick to get until now, or if it’s one that Thompson never saw coming and only exists in my head because I’m reading between the lines and applying to my own life philosophies.

But the take is this.

You buy the ticket when you’re born. It’s not an option – much like it’s not an option in the Thompson quote. You buy the ticket, whether you like it or not. And, having gotten your hands on the ticket, you’ve got not choice but to take the ride.

And that ride, of course, is life.

Life being – if I can get muddy and mix my quotes up – what happens when you’re making other plans.

I can even begin to guess why the Hunter quote has been in my brain lately. It’s a bit like a song you hear on the radio, that you can’t shake for the rest of the day, no matter how hard you try. I’m stuck. I can’t shake the words. And I can’t shake the truth behind them either.

Sometimes I get tired of the ride. Sometimes I want to cash in the ticket and get some money that I can dump on the hot dog stand, because sometimes you just want a hot dog, with lots of mustard. And some onions.

But you’re not allowed to do that. Because you bought the ticket at conception, at a point when no one asked you whether you wanted the ticket. Whether you wanted to play the game, or take the ride. And this ticket, my friends, is unrefundable.

You ride that train to its destination whether you like it or not.

This is the unfinished and unpublished piece that was almost (until I thought better of it) last week's "Offline" column.

It was written after the Wednesday night performance of "Welcome to the Monkey House" and after a few hours of drinking in the bar later. It also followed an hour or two of drinking at home, after the bar.

I didn't finish it because at the time I was sober enough to know that I was too drunk to send it without having given it a read the next morning while sober.

I didn't send it the next morning, when sober, because It was a little too close to the truth of what I've been feeling lately. And, within that, it was a little bit too sad sounding.

As a general rule, I'm not against sharing my thoughts and feelings in my column. I've opened up about a lot of different things, in a lot of ways that have been kind of scary at the time. But this time...this time I wasn't comfortable letting people into *this* particular feeling.

So there wasn't a column at all last week, becuase by the time I realized I couldn't submit this one, I didn't have time to write another one.

The "Buy the ticket, take the ride," thought is still with me, quite heavily. I'm still feeling, very much, like I should be living my life a bit more like that. Not wanting things, not striving for things, not making plans, simply taking the ride, letting life hand me what it hands me, and following that. Because I've had some very good things happen to me this year by living my life that way.

But it's a hard thing to do. And it can be very, very terrifying.

Though, I suppose you could argue too, the best parts of life are usually like that.

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