I was asked by the parents of a particularly high value daughter to give some "grandfatherly" life advice.
This page will be dedicated to the young who want to live a fulfilling life. I'll add updates and personal video commentary as time permits.
Number one is to think for yourself. Escape the peer pressure to fit in. Besides the usual life changing referrals of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, I HIGHLY recommend Social Metaphysics by Nathaniel Branden. It starts off in a rather dramatic tone that we moderns might tend to dismiss, but listen closely to the words. This short lecture was life changing for me. I think it will serve any thoughtful mind well.
Thinking for yourself, being independent, does not necessarily mean being different. Don't be strive to be different just for difference's sake to give the impression of being independent of the opinions of others. Key is thoughtful consideration...sometimes you'll agree with others...sometimes you'll deviate.
This is critical for self-esteem and self-confidence.
Ok, now we get to "living on the raggedy edge". And this is where I want you to reflect on the life you want to live. The life that at the end of it, as you draw your last breath, you can say to yourself "wow that was awesome" or "I'm glad I didn't squander my life".
I've lived many lifestyles...from the high risk sport of motocross to being a web developer during the dot-com boom to being an Information Systems manager to living aboard a sailboat to being an RV Nomad.
It was satisfying being highly productive during my career. Key to my success was not getting sucked into group think (back to Social Metaphysics). Many people think you have to keep your head down in the corporate world. You don't. In fact being an independent thinker is exactly what will make you most valuable...sometimes it will be scary and even suck a little, but ultimately it was precisely this intellectual integrity that led me to be very well compensated. This is easier to do if you are not deep in debt and are desperately dependent on the paycheck. It's easier to be confident and have integrity knowing that you could walk away from this particular job. Debt is a terrible burden and makes a cozy cardigan out of cowardice.
There is a huge opportunity cost to getting sucked into the corporate world...the career path with blinders...being single-mindedly focused on a career.
I'm not yet drawing that last breath but the absolutely most memorable experiences of my past 60 years were not connected to my career, productivity, or resume.
My 10 years racing motocross was kind of the start to my life of adventure...learning to fix my own stuff, learning to trust my own judgment in high risk situations, and the delights of travel.
Then there are the multiple times we've lived aboard a sailboat. Absolutely some of the most memorable experiences of our lives (my wife loves the sailing life). Learning to fix my boat, developing my skills so that I could trust my judgment in some rather stressful sailing situations, and the delights of travel. Sailboat travel is a whole different perspective. Multi-millionaire Doug Casey often reflects back on his youth spent hopping trains - a form of travel that gives one a very different perspective on things.
There's something about mastering existence in perilous or dangerous situations. It doesn't have to be launching a motocross bike off of huge jumps or sailing in stormy weather, it could be the simple delight of making a tiny home that eaks out a zone of cozy, elegant safety in the harsh wintry climate of Wyoming....like Ariel McGlothin of Fy Nyth.
One of the best books on the "living your life" topic is The Best Life Money Can't Buy by Andy Deering. Few others can really get you thinking of the opportunity costs of a conventional life. Nothing wrong with choosing a conventional life as long as you have truly considered the alternatives...the possibilities.
During the height of the Covid19 panic my wife remarked "If this virus gets me, no regrets. We've had a most wonderful life of adventure."
Adventure for sure. But it's also about putting yourself in the company of people you admire. I'm fortunate in having sons that are a delight to be around, but I've also found camaraderie in the sailing community and in the people who live in Wyoming's harsh climate. You can also find terrific people in aviation. The effort and expense it takes to get your pilot's license is generally the purview of quality people...the "two marshmallow crowd."
There are some seriously messed up people out there. Think of them like grizzly bears...keep your distance. There are some awesome people as well. You'll only find the latter if you are 100% really yourself.
The "fake it until you make it" crowd, in my observation, end up being lifelong frauds. Those who believe that a "fake smile is better than a sincere frown", end up as sociopaths or the victims of sociopaths.
Quality people....Kenneth Royce wrote thee volumes titled Modules for Manhood that I regard as crucial for all boys striving to be men, It should also be studied by women seeking guidance in finding the right guy.
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the thing you didn't do than the ones you did do." - Mark Twain
There's this suggestion that no matter what course you choose, you'll be disappointed by the opportunities that you pass by. There is always an opportunity cost. The key is to introspect about your personality and make careful choices as to which course in life is optimal for you. Think long term. Imagine when you reach old age. It seems to me that failing to optimize your life will, itself, make old age arrive much sooner.