The Way of the Gonzo
Beginning a book is like beginning a relationship – you start out full of hope, excitement and expectation, checking out the exterior, the cover, then maybe spending a bit of time flicking through a few pages, testing the water, looking for signs that it has substance and intrigue until slowly you get drawn in and…
Actually, y’know what? Fuck it – stop that train of thought, I’m boring myself already, I’m not kicking this off with an analogy, it’s way too early to go all Forrest Gump on you – there’ll be plenty of time for that later…
The real point is – why should you read beyond the first page?
And perhaps more importantly, why should you trust me?
The simple answer to that is – you shouldn’t. You shouldn’t trust me at all (actually it’s a pretty good rule not to trust anyone who uses the word should or shouldn’t).
That’s what that book If you meet the Buddha on the Road Kill Him was all about – if he says he’s the Buddha then he’s not the Buddha ‘cos you are the Buddha. Not that I’ve read it, it’s just one of those great books that you don’t have to read ‘cos it’s all in the title, like Feel the Fear and do it Anyway; pick it up, look at the cover, put it back on the shelf, job done.
I’d love to write a book like that.
The original working title of this book was The Keith Richards Health Plan, but Keith’s people thought that it probably wasn’t such a fantastic idea after all and his lawyers are bigger than my lawyers. In fact, I don’t have lawyers. I don’t even have people. But even that title, much as I loved it, didn’t quite have that ‘does what it says on the can’ immediacy.
I’d tweak the Buddha book title a little, something like ‘If You Meet the Buddha on the Road Mug Him’ because:
a) I’m against capital punishment and if we kill everyone who goes around claiming to be a messiah there’d be a lot of dead sports presenters lying around.
b) It’s a bit of a baby bathwater scenario, a lot of gurus, spiritual teachers and even therapists have some clever things to say, and they’re worth mugging for their wisdom.
One person worth mugging is my friend John Williams, author of the great Screw Work Let’s Play, who taught me this easy little process by which you can find your life’s purpose, your own unique message to the world.
He said –
imagine that you have the opportunity to meet yourself as a small child, with all that you know now as an adult. What message would you would want to give to the mini you?
Try it – it’s a killer exercise and might really help
This is what came to me – quick as a flash.
“Don’t trust anyone who tells you that they know what’s right for you. Trust yourself – YOU are the expert.”
And that goes for you too. Trust yourself – you bought, borrowed or stole this book right? Something in YOU knew… You’re the expert, of you, no one else. And anyone who says they’re an expert of anything, let alone you, is to be treated with great suspicion. Expertise is cool, but experts have stopped learning.
My maternal Grandparents, Pete and Alice Muckley, had a big hand in drumming that one into me. “Don’t trust authority,” Pete used to warn me. “Look what happened on the Somme.”
You just can’t argue with stats like that.
And as the not quite as impressive as my Grandfather but nevertheless brilliant controversial Rolls Royce collecting possibly assassinated by the CIA charismatic unblinking contradictory trickster and sex guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, or Osho as he was perhaps better known, put it in the very first of his Ten Commandments:
“Never obey anyone’s command unless it is coming from within you also.”
Or more simply in the words of Bob Dylan, “don’t follow leaders, watch the parkin’ meters”. Then again you’ve got Shakespeare who must have been abducted by aliens for the amount of shit that he really understood; I mean, “to thine own self be true,” how good is that? And then you’ve got the great beast himself, the much maligned bad boy of magic, Aleister Crowley with, “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law…”
Oh, and Osho’s third Commandment’s pretty cool too:
“Truth is within you, do not search for it elsewhere.”
Which kind of makes this book redundant.