It’s all material (Tarot of Michelle)

No matter how badly I screw up my life, I can still write about it and salvage something from the experience.

The story of “It’s all material” begins many years ago, at the University of Oregon in Eugene, in one of those large auditorium classrooms that holds hundreds of students.  Our guest visitor for the day: the infamous Hunter S. Thompson.

I do not remember what he said. I do remember he spoke quietly and wore his typical trademark khaki outfit. It seemed implausible that this quiet, neutral person was THE FAMOUS, colorful, larger-than-life, notorious Hunter S. Thompson. But he was.

Illustration by the author

I’m reading and re-reading HST’s works again, and I’ll watch the movies again too. I’m horrified. I’m delighted. I’m envious. I’m appalled. I’m confused. I’m enthralled. I can’t believe the situations he gets into; I can’t believe how badly he screws things up; I can’t believe that he gets out of these jams. He sounds like a superhero. But at what cost? We know what cost, in the end.

Hunter S. Thompson taught me that even if I make a horrible mess of my life, I can still salvage a story from the experience. No matter how bad the fuck-up, it’s still material, and I can write about it. So it never has to be a complete loss. That’s the first lesson of this card.

HST reminds me of this quote:

“An adventure is never an adventure when it happens. An adventure is simply physical and emotional discomfort recollected in tranquility.” Tim Cahill

A wonderful photo I found of HST, with one of his much-abused typewriters, is the basis for this card’s image. The yellow symbolizes the rays of talent that emanated from him to reach us, but are interrupted by a dark halo of stress, depression and/or drug abuse that eventually led to his death. 

I miss HST. He left too soon, and boy does the world need him right now. From time to time I’ll have a cigarette or some bourbon in his honor, or hunch over my vintage typewriter and try to channel a little of his energy. But I know I can’t do it sitting safe and quiet in my house. The best way to honor him, and the second lesson of this card, is to live life more fully and get out and have those adventures. The words will follow.

A story behind one of the cards in The Tarot of Michelle. Follow the developmental art as a Patron on Patreon.

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