In October 1997 I saw the writer Kurt Vonnegut in conversation at the Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver. He was introduced by the local owner of the Wynkoop Brewery, a guy named John Hickenlooper, who was a family friend (Hick's father was a fraternity brother of KV).
  1. (Hick later went on to be mayor of Denver.)
    [He's now/still governor of Colorado.]
  2. During the conversation (my notes of the night tell us), Vonnegut shared four pieces of advice to lead a good life.
  3. They are:
  4. 1) Be a decent human being
    The world is a cold cruel place, and by striving and trying to be a decent person, there is a chance that new babies born today will one day run into you and learn something about being decent. He also estimated that 17% of people lead this sort of life.
  5. 2) Do art
    Feed your soul. Don't just watch it or read it or see it, but do it yourself. Close the curtains and sing and dance to a song. Draw. Paint. The art is in the doing and the making, not in the selling or showing or reading or publishing. He even gave us homework: to go home and write a four line poem.
  6. 3) Enjoy nice things
    He learned this from an uncle. When you see a nice thing, pause, and enjoy it. If it's a pitcher of lemonade in the shade on the Fourth of July, enjoy it. Say, "This is nice."
  7. 4) Fart around
    He mocked the (then youngish) Internet by telling a story of being in college and having to walk around campus to various libraries to find information, to run into people and talk to strangers and stop for coffee. "How inconvenient! What a waste of time," he joked. Then he paused and looked at us the audience. "But so what? What are humans for? To waste time. To fart around."