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Acknowledge your parents as the authors of your existence as you struggle to give birth to yourself.
Learn to play as you bridle the lightning. Hold your hand in the fire until it’s taught you the lessons only pain can teach.
Recognize the life force in everything, even the stones beneath your feet.Die just a little at each creature’s passing, feel a twinge, and let it go.
When the world refuses to do things your way, don’t fight it. Learn to dance with reality, and don’t lead.
Be content to watch beauty on the wing without trying to catch it in an ugly net.
Abandon dreams of immortality in order to embrace the present.
Allow yourself to feel both pleasure and pain without dwelling on its duration.
Don’t let the inevitability of the hangover spoil the taste, or the habit ruin the high.
Travel to another country by yourself. Explore the world through the eyes of a different culture.
Master a musical instrument, and jam with musicians who don’t speak your language.
Rent a room in a dangerous part of town and walk the streets at night alone.
Cut yourself off from family and friends, reinvent yourself, then come back and tell them who it is you really are.
Fall in love with someone you hate because the sex is fucking amazing.
Get your heart broken. Stay drunk and refuse to get over it for a long time.
Become independent and self-sustaining with the help of those who respect and care about you.
Forget about finding the perfect partner to complete you, keeping in mind that most love stories are written by naive, inexperienced people who believe that two broken souls can repair each other. When you fix yourself, you’ll have something to offer a partner worth having.
Get a night job. Spend your afternoons at the library reading nothing but biographies and history.
Plan a robbery. Plan a murder. Throw a rock at a cop. Commit a crime, get caught, and spend the night in jail. Put yourself in a position of vulnerability until somebody hurts you, then hurt an innocent stranger to make yourself feel better. Let yourself feel the anger and shame, and remember it when you’re tempted to pass judgment on a criminal.
Study myth and folklore. Learn to speak the language of terror so it can never overwhelm you again.
Seek out things that disturb you, discovering ways to see them differently in order to understand and accept them.
Respect the dreams of others as you learn from your own.
Don’t be afraid of what you can’t see.
Get high on drugs and try not to become addicted. If you do get hooked, try not to die before you learn enough to be done with them.
Fire a weapon. Climb a mountain. Jump out of a plane. Dive in deep water until your air runs out, then kick off the bottom and pull hard for daylight. If you don’t drown, do it again.
Learn to meditate, and practice every day. Learn to live one breath, one heartbeat, at a time.
Practice yoga, Tai chi, and Qigong. Study aikido and taekwondo. Become potentially dangerous while developing inner peace.
Don’t accept things people say because you’ve heard them hundreds of times. Listen carefully to the words that come out of your own mouth to discover what you think and how you feel. If what you say makes no sense, say, “I don’t know,” then shut up and listen to someone else.
Attune your ears to what people are afraid to say aloud.
Choose a friend you can trust without reservation, and ask them what you need to change most about yourself. Do it, without hesitation. Repeat as necessary.
Realize that your parents were just a couple of human beings and forgive them for not knowing how to raise you. Take the responsibility for everything that’s happened to you so you can stop making excuses and move on.
Be prepared to throw away everything that you think you know at a moment’s notice. Master technique, then dive in like it’s your first time.
Billy Bang Douglas is editor-in-chief of Painted Brain News