Fight Club, an entertaining book and film has many teachings for life – not just on masculinity but also on self-improvement, motivation and making the most out of your potential.

A near life experience?

One of the most compelling scenes is when Tyler Durden or the Narrator (depending on whether you are consuming the film or book version), puts a gun to convenience store worker Raymond K Hessel’s head and threatens to pull the trigger unless they go back on track to realising their potential.

The stories protagonists enact a very extreme way of encouraging someone to pull themselves together and stop wasting their potential.  A near-life experience.

Fight Club quote, direct from the book by Chuck Palahniuk

“Listen, now, you’re going to die, Raymond K. K. K. Hessel, tonight. You might die in one second or in one hour, you decide. So lie to me. Tell me the first thing off the top of your head. Make something up. I don’t give a shit. I have a gun.

Finally, you were listening and coming out of the little tragedy in your head.

Fill in the blank. What does Raymond Hessel want to be when he grows up?

Go home, you said you just wanted to go home, please.

No shit, I said. But after that, how did you want to spend your life? If you could do anything in the world.

Make something up.

You didn’t know.

Then you’re dead right now, I said. I said, now turn your head.

Death to commence in ten, in nine, in eight.

A vet, you said. You want to be a vet, a veterinarian.

You could be in school working your ass off, Raymond Hessel, or you could be dead. You choose. I stuffed your wallet into the back of your jeans. So you really wanted to be an animal doctor. I took the saltwater muzzle of the gun off one cheek and pressed it against another. Is that what you’ve always wanted to be, Dr. Raymond K. K. K. K. Hessel, a veterinarian?…

So, I said, go back to school. If you wake up tomorrow morning, you find a way to get back into school.

I have your license.

I know who you are. I know where you live. I’m keeping your license, and I’m going to check on you, mister Raymond K. Hessel. In three months, and then six months, and then a year, and if you aren’t back in school on your way to being a veterinarian, you will be dead…

Raymond K. K. Hessel, your dinner is going to taste better than any meal you’ve ever eaten, and tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of your life.

If you were going to die, what would you wish you had done first?

I see a Raymond K Hessel everyday – he (or she) has usually quit and lives in a world of discontent of the position they are in.

Paradoxically they lack the motivation to do anything about their dire position and choose to settle for their bad life and complain about their fortune.

It’s not the fact they are a failure and quit that they are in the position they are in.  It’s also not because they are unlucky, their face doesn’t fit or whatever million excuses they use for their laziness.

They ignore the fact that beyond working a job that doesn’t satisfy them, they still have remaining hours in the day to fulfill their potential.

What are they doing?

Instead they choose to hang with loser friends, watch endless TV or play video games.

But there is another way – and it doesn’t involve having a Fight Club style enlightenment.

All it takes is starting action today – not tomorrow.  Write down everything you want and from that make a plan, decide what is realistic, decide what your priorities are and set your goals.

Then with this start following good habits like reading, writing, fitness and nutrition.

And when Tyler Durden talks about “a near life experience” he refers to the ability to take risks.

This doesn’t necessarily mean taking risks that are death defying, but small challenges to yourself that will push you and get you out of your comfort zone:

  • Talk to that girl.
  • Reinvent your career.
  • Sign-up for that endurance race that will push you fitness and mental abilities to your limit.

Don’t settle for routine, don’t settle for wasted potential, don’t settle for less – seek those near life experiences.

Raymond K Hessel – A Near Life Experience

I wrote this post because I was a Raymond K Hessel – I worked a shit job, pissing away my potential, frustrated that life was passing me by.

If you are a Raymond K Hessel what will it take for you to get up and do something?  Hopefully not a near life experience or a Tyler Durden putting a gun to your head.

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4 thoughts on “Fight Club: Raymond K Hessel – A Near Life Experience

  1. “Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessel’s life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever tasted.”
    And herein lies the center of Fight Club’s logical fallacy. Odds are, Raymond K. Hessel isn’t going to just float through life now, thinking “oh my god, I’m so grateful I’m alive” and healing hurt animals.
    Instead, his limbic system will likely stay in overdrive owing to the trauma of having a gun pointed at his head, owing to the realization that there is a crazy madman who talks to himself who knows where he lives and wants to kill him if he doesn’t become a veterinarian. My guess is that tomorrow will be the worst day of Raymond K. Hessel’s life. Anxiety will make decisions for him, for the rest of his life, even more than poverty already has. The protagonist ruining a man’s life to make a point to himself.
    Why do some assume he’s gonna be a vet?
    “Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessel’s life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever tasted.”
    I doubt it. the clerk won’t be able to eat tonight because he was just held up at gunpoint. He’ll have to report this to the police and go through the bullshit hassle of getting a new license. He’ll probably be too terrified to sleep, afraid to walk on the streets at night, possibly suffer PTSD
    Tyler is nothing but a terrifying lunatic monster who gets carried away by impeding on other people’s freedoms to justify his own ideals. He forces a store clerk to have a renewed appreciation for life, but completely ignores the possibility that he could have induced some serious PTSD that could negatively affect this man for life. He inspires men of fight club to feel free and instinctual, only to then mentally manipulate them into his slaves and make them think/believe in only his own words and ideas. These men cant even think for themselves at the end and they worship Tyler like a God instead of worshiping their own self worth and ideals. Tyler is a terrorist with a God-like superiority complex, which is a bad thing and a contradiction to his own ideals of human beings.
    And the so called sacrifices of stealing their IDs and doing the same thing to others suffered from PTSD. Tyler is like “I just made him appreciate his life more!” No, asshole, you just gave the poor guy crippling PTSD for the rest of his life. Don’t think that clerk did get to vet school. Probably suffered from PTSD, then became an alcoholic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really good thoughts thanks for sharing.

      I suppose in this situation you can think of more real life situations, someone surviving a horrible disease, getting an organ replacement and swearing they will change their life.

      Odds are the ‘near-life’ experience won’t

      The intent of the store clerk to become a vet like you say won’t follow through and he will develop issues from the experience.


      1. And do you agree Tyler Durden is not cool, he’s a terrifying dirtbag terrorist monster?


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