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Should we teach kids Fight Club's Raymond K. Hessel lesson?

Yes. But I don't know how effective it will be.

I tried it with high school juniors. But they were probably too young.

I'm not sure it's a lesson kids can get. Maybe, as with Raymond, it won't be affecting until you're working the late shift at a convenience store and living in a "shitty basement apartment." Or something similar.

Here's the Raymond scene in Fight Club:

There's probably a little Raymond K. Hessel in all us.

What keeps us from pursuing our dreams? In Raymond's case, "Too much school."

It's really not.

"Four years of college, and then another four years of vet school," I'd explain to my students. "If you start college at 18, you'll be a vet at 26. Or, if you think it's too hard - too much school - you'll still be 26, but you won't be a vet."

Kids in high school get that. Most kind of expect that. So, perhaps, they couldn't relate to Raymond, who, for whatever reason, was floundering around in community college.

But I bet a lot of those 16 year-olds I taught a decade (or more) ago could totally relate to Raymond now. Still, even if they started college at 28, they could still be a vet (or whatever) at 36 - still pretty young!

I wish I could have five minutes with every student I taught in the 80's, 90's - up to around 2015. (They'd all be at least as old as the Raymond/Edward Norton character in Fight Club.)

I'd ask them,

Has your life (so far) turned out better, worse or about the same as you dreamed it would be when you were in my class?

For those answering "worse," I'd want to know why. What happened? What popped the bubble?

Was it something truly beyond their control? Illness. Family responsibility? A clear lack of the requisite talent? (I wanted to play in the NBA.)

If it wasn't one of those, I bet it was either complacency or a lack of desperation, which may be the same thing.

No one wants to be desperate, but I bet Raymond, thinking his life was on the line, took the first steps toward vet school. Or something that would be an improvement over the life he was living.

Brad Pitt's line is, "Raymond, you're going to die." He doesn't say when Raymond is going to die, just the fact that he will.

That line was meant for all of us.

So what's keeping you from getting what you want? A lack of desperation? Is your life a 7 out of 10? Is it "fine"?

Fine can be more lethal than fail. If you are a 3 out of 10 you're desperate. Desperate to change. Desperation = motivation. Complacency, comfortableness, contentment and security are disincentives.

So do we give up on our goals because achieving them got too hard or because life got too easy? Do we just settle for that C? That 7 out of 10? When life isn't that bad, why struggle? Until Pitt threatens Raymond, he was settling for the lower levels on Maslow's hierarchy. He had enough to eat and a place to sleep. But not much more.

I'm troubled because, at 65, I'm seeing some of Raymond in me.

Because of a satisfactory teacher pension and consistent investment, my physiological and safety needs will be fulfilled for the rest of my life.

And that's the problem! No matter what I do or don't do, I can't fail. I'm guaranteed to pass with at least a C.

I know. I get it. It's a first-world problem. Millions around the world are struggling for life's basics and, trust me, I'm grateful for my good fortune.

But being comfortable and safe is never enough, and I'm certain that even those striving for secure food and shelter, once they (hopefully) have them, will agree.

Even Raymond.

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