Kurt Bell

A life of courage, joy and independence.



Email sent on 11-27-2015

Hello David,

I’m glad it was a good one and less challenging than these things can sometimes be. I wasn’t really looking forward to seeing the extended family yesterday though in the end it really worked out nice. That year alone here really did something to me and I’m not at all the man I was prior to the experience. It’s like there’s an internal me (strange concept) who minds and cares for the choices and actions within my control and carefully judges these alone towards the improvement of virtue and the deprecation of vice, and who is largely unfazed by the folly or machinations of others. This change has been attended by more silence on my part and a fading of interest in adventure or going to wild places. It’s like those remote places are now within me and reached easily though the simple act of directed will and mindful thought. At Thanksgiving dinner yesterday I felt like I was looking out at the assembled kinfolk while seated upon the smooth surface of a big warm rock in the desert. The peace and happiness of that far off place welled up like a gentle spring while I listened and occasionally spoke, making sure to carefully choose my words so as to tread the line of engagement which is neither prying nor offensive. A natural form of PC borne of the wish for goodwill and tranquility for the assembled individuals. I really like this change which has come upon me in the last half year and which is becoming more standardized and refined with time. Perhaps this is what it’s like to grow old? To have had enough of the vain efforts and expenditures of self-serving endeavor and over-concern regarding the impression others maintain of us or the legacy we might pass to posterity. It’s a good change. To grow more quiet. To still the mind. To sit alone on a warm stone within the mind. Surrounded by a beautiful imaginary landscape, reflective of experience yet rarified by the principals developed of decades of folly, strife and occasional good fortune. I wonder if I’ll really ever return to the desert, or any wild place in search of wildness? It seems that thing has instead found me.

Thanks for reading my ramble… It’s time to make french toast and then go take my mom to lunch. Have a wonderful day, friend! 🙂

Email sent on 09-21-2015

Hello Elliott,

Thank you for writing. I’m pleased to meet you. It seems you’ve got a difficult challenge before you, made more so by the fact that the choice you make in the near future will have long term impact on not only the quality of your life, but the very nature of the character you will mature into. Few at your age have a very clear idea about where they want to go or what they want to do. Those who find their way often do so through the simple act of searching.

Imagine you’ve a vast wilderness before you, and a finite amount of time to explore and discover before death comes to seek you out. You can spend that time seated at the edge of the terrible vastness, unwilling to step forth in earnest for the indecision you feel regarding direction, or for fear of encountering death too early amid the wastes.Such a life isn’t bad, and many find peace and joy in the security and comfort of making camp in whatever place or circumstance they happened to enter life. They might fall into the first job or career that comes along, find a convenient spouse, and perhaps even live a better, longer and more successful life than they could ever have hoped had they trod off alone and frightened along the course of their first or best inclination.

If you go, I’m not saying you’ll find anything out there in the wilds of the seeking life, or that you’ll even survive very long, though your message leads me to believe that’s how you seem to want to live. If you make the decision to seek out your best living, then do so with an understanding that the your odds of success are often strangely proportional to your sense of endured discomfort under the willful force of forward motion. Don’t forget that last part, as forward motion is the key. This doesn’t mean you have to actually move, though your values, will, perspective and world view must ever pass deeper into the wilderness as long as you live, so far perhaps that you can almost lose sight of the outposts of shared humanity, which twinkle like distant cities, impossibly remote and alone across a cold and empty night. When you can reach such a place and still maintain your connection to humanity (some do lose it), then you will have found yourself, and your search for purpose will be revealed as a vain, desperate and unnecessary quest. With a little luck you’ll be satisfied to then begin moving more slowly, easing your pace as the years deepen and your maturity ripens towards a less fearful, satisfying end. It’s a long walk to such a place. Search it out if you wish. Though keep in mind that every day you wait, distracted by the illusion of long life and unending opportunity – which is the lie and deceit of every youth – is a day lost to the quest, subtracting from your meager allowance of time, perhaps even costing you that critical stretch of movement you’ll need to uncover and reach the furthest point of living where the true purpose of life is discovered to be no longer necessary.

Good luck,


Email sent on 03-08-2017

Hello Daniel,

Thank you for writing and sharing your story which is familiar to me. You see, I was in the same situation at the same point in life.I met my wife when we were both just 23 years old. I had the same draw to adventure that you feel and I even tried to leave Yumiko to head off on a great life adventure. I made it about three days out before I came back to her, and I’ve been with her ever since. Yumiko and I finished school together, moved to Japan together, back to the USA together, became rich together, had a baby together, become poor together, moved back to the USA together and I expect we’ll die married a few decades from now. I’m the story your life might take if you choose to stay with this woman and make a life of it together. However, there’s lots of variables I don’t know anything about which make our situations very different, and I can’t comment with any confidence given my great depth of ignorance regarding your compatibility, goals, values, as well as your long-term aims together. I can tell you that choosing that path has proven VERY hard at times, as that desire for adventure never let up and at times made me VERY resentful for being “held down” in marriage and family. However, like you, I always considered myself an honorable man and I was (and remain) determined to see this commitment through to the end. I also have two big advantages working for me which make this plan tenable: First, my wife fully and completely supports my adventure lifestyle. Yumiko is fine with whatever I “need” to do in terms of heading out into the wild. Furthermore, she has no interest in joining me and has her own pastimes which she happily enjoys without me. Second, things have gotten MUCH better with age. The 20s were pretty easy together, as Yumiko and I didn’t have much responsibility and we enjoyed lots of good times together. The 30s were very tough with a career, a kid and a growing sense that my chance at adventure was passing me by. The 40s where tough for the reasons already cited, though things got better when I discovered “softypapa” and began to live my adventure life in earnest. Now, I’m in my 50s and I’ve learned to handle the stress of career, kid, responsibilities and the rest, and the stress of my earlier decades seems trivial in hindsight (though it sure did hurt then). This is the best part of my life. And though Yumiko and I have grown apart in the last decade, largely because of parenthood, we are now finding one another again and making rapid and happy improvements.

That’s a long paragraph above… Sorry about that. I fit a great deal of life into a pretty short space. Now, let’s look at that other path I might have taken.

If I’d left my wife and gone on my own I suspect I would have enjoyed a pretty interesting life. If I’d stayed single I would have no doubt have had a lot of fun. However, would I enjoy now the deep satisfaction and recreation of playing my mind over the landscape of my life and extracting thoughts of value related to fronting and largely overcoming the challenges of being a husband and family man? Probably not. Would I miss that? Definitely! Do I consider that the most important and richest blessing of my life? Absolutely. Sure, I’d be making Lylesbrother videos taking about life, but I doubt they’d resonate with many people if the bulk of my life consisted of one amazing wilderness adventure after another. That’s not the stuff that I get email about. People reach out to me with messages and questions like yours? They find me because of my adventure videos in wild places, but then stick around because I seem to have something to say that’s helpful about the real challenges of life. How to find and keep a good life partner. How to engage in the drudgery of life without selling your soul or becoming a monster. How to be an adventurer, an artist or a poet, all the while bringing home the bacon to your family, changing diapers and working a job you neither like or which is a match for your talents and abilities. That’s the stuff people write to me about, and if I hadn’t made that decision to create a life with Yumiko then I probably wouldn’t have much to say of any value to you or others who ask.

So there’s my response. I’m not going to suggest one way or the other to you, and simply share what I experienced and my thoughts about consequences and value. I will offer this bit of advice though… If you decide to stay with this woman (or anyone else) then make sure you clearly communicate to her that desire which exists inside you. Tell her honestly if you have a wish to go alone into wild places, or spend time working on a book, or join some interesting meetup group that she might not be interested. Make sure she’s clear about these interests and needs, and encourage her to share her’s with you. Make sure also that you are clear about how you will raise any children which might enter the picture. What are your respective ideas about values, religion, education, the roles of mom and dad. Get these things out in the open and agreed to before you move on with deeper commitment.

And finally, if you decide to leave and the money thing is an issue, then make a sincere promise to pay her back and do so in installments as quickly as you can. If all other indications are the you should leave, then don’t let something as trivial as money to hold you back as long as you are committed to pay back anything you owe. Oh, and nobody appreciates in the long run a mate who sacrifices their own dreams simply not to make the other unhappy or uncomfortable. If you do that then I can pretty much guarantee you’ll both pay a dear price two decades down which you can easily avoid now.

Good luck. I hope this helps.

Kurt 🙂

Email sent on 03-15-2017
To Hieu T. and Matt S.

I encountered the following passage this morning from Seneca which I thought topical and relevant to our discussion yesterday:

“Do you ask what is the proper limit to wealth? It is, first, to have what is necessary, and, second, to have what is enough.”

Though a very wealthy man himself, Seneca valued time as his first and most treasured asset. In answer to Hieu’s question about providing our heirs with resources enough for a better life, I wonder if Seneca would rather give this wisdom to his kids rather than his fortune?

Have a great day, guys! –Kurt

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