“There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . . And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .” – Hunter S Thomson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Hunter S. Thomson wrote of a certain spirit, a particular perspective and approach to life that is in its own unique way, absolute madness. It is electric, like having every single one of the nerves in your body plugged into the moment you’re in, shooting a thousand and one watts of energy into your spirit, and feeding off chaos. It is a glorious maelstrom of seediness and absurdity, a healthy dose of weird, all blended with a heaping serving of cynicism and true grit (and we were chock full of that, man). As he so earnestly recounts his infamous adventures in Las Vegas alongside his perpetually zonked Samoan side kick/lawyer, Dr. Gonzo, Thomson instills in generations to come an insatiable zest for adventure and a taste for the extremely weird (because of course, when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro). It would be putting mildly to say that Thomson has deeply affected my understanding of life, love and adventure. I believe that I live my life according to the teachings of Hunter S. Thomson with the same fervor most would attribute to a religious faith.
Knowing all of this, knowing how incredibly magnified every moment of life has the potential to be, makes sitting still an almost impossible task. I find a lot more ease in the notion of booking an impromptu solo trip to Prague than to sign a one year contract for an office job. The latter terrifies me, the prior sets my soul alight, igniting a fire in the part of me that craves adventure that feeds and survives off it. Landing somewhere new is an absolute high. A euphoric feeling that cannot quite be penned – it’s an internal excitement, one that doesn’t quite translate to words. Meeting a new set of people in another country alone is exhilarating – and connecting with them on things you never really knew translated cross culturally, is truly something. It’s like meeting a new set of characters in a pilot for show you know is going to be great. A traveler is serene and at peace with the mundane, because he knows what lies beyond his borders. He has seen the others, and their mothers. He has dined with them, he has experienced with them and he has been the other.
Gonzo travelling is that sense of childlike infatuation with life; the notion that excitement and adventure are always around the corner, just a trip away. It’s wanting more out of life, wanting to stretch and milk every moment for everything it’s worth. Pushing buttons and limits right left and center and picking up all the freaks along the way. Raoul Duke describes Dr. Gonzo as “One of God’s own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production.” Be that mutant. It’s about wandering, not aimlessly, but for the sole purpose of kicking up dust and leaving impressions on people that will last long after you’ve moved on. That’s Gonzo. It’s rabid and raw, and offers no apologies.
So whether it’s knocking down local brews in dusty Beirut bars, passionately singing along to Dylan under dim lights reliving an era you never actually lived, or sightseeing in Madrid at 3 am with some glorious local misfits, or reading in the park in Berlin while buskers fill the jovial summer air with their adorably mispronounced covers, or surviving the cold after a night out in Camden, audibly gasping at local kids run around in tee shirts and leopard print miniskirts, or lying on your back in a cemetery on a hill top in the south of France, watching a meteor shower with some starry eyed international kids, or even taking that long overdue road trip into the Arabian desert – find madness. I believe in madness. I believe in the absurd. I believe that life guides you along with fleeting hints, and if you’re too entrenched in the mundane those hints will be lost on you, and soon, they will give up and become few and far between. Don’t become another disenchanted youth, don’t squander your time, and don’t settle. To travel is to live, and to accept madness into your mind is to let go the tension created by the desire for order. Life is not ordered. It cannot be mapped out nor predicted. You cannot foresee heartbreak or everlasting friendship. Trying to control everything is akin to desperately trying to force a square peg into a round hole. There are no rules in Gonzo. And so I preach: accept madness, embrace adventure, and write it all down; because you can’t take anything with you, but you certainly can leave it all behind for others to find.