Two years ago, Linds Redding passed away, about one year after being diagnosed with inoperable esophageal cancer. He was an art director and motion graphics designer in the advertising industry. He was 52 years old. I didn’t know him, but I recently read some of his blog, including a post entitled, A Short Lesson in Perspective. It’s worth a read – especially if you work in a "creative" job. These are the words of a man who knew his time was up.
It turns out I didn’t actually like my old life nearly as much as I thought I did. I know this now because I occasionally catch up with my old colleagues and work-mates. They fall over each other to enthusiastically show me the latest project they’re working on. Ask my opinion. Proudly show off their technical prowess (which is not inconsiderable). I find myself glazing over but politely listen as they brag about who’s had the least sleep and the most takaway food. “I haven’t seen my wife since January, I can’t feel my legs any more and I think I have scurvy but another three weeks and we’ll be done. It’s got to be done by then. The client’s going on holiday. What do I think?”
What do I think?
I think you’re all f
-----g mad. Deranged. So disengaged from reality it’s not even funny. It’s a f
-----g TV commercial. Nobody gives a shit.
The other thing I did, I now discover, was to convince myself that there was nothing else, absolutely nothing, I would rather be doing. That I had found my true calling in life, and that I was unbelievably lucky to be getting paid – most of the time – for something that I was passionate about, and would probably be doing in some form or other anyway.
Countless late nights and weekends, holidays, birthdays, school recitals and anniversary dinners were willingly sacrificed at the altar of some intangible but infinitely worthy higher cause. It would all be worth it in the long run.
So was it worth it?
Well of course not. It turns out it was just advertising. There was no higher calling. No ultimate prize. Just a lot of faded, yellowing newsprint, and old video cassettes in an obsolete format I can’t even play any more even if I was interested. Oh yes, and a lot of framed certificates and little gold statuettes. A shitload of empty Prozac boxes, wine bottles, a lot of grey hair and a tumor of indeterminate dimensions.
…Oh. And if you’re reading this while sitting in some darkened studio or edit suite agonizing over whether housewife A should pick up the soap powder with her left hand or her right, do yourself a favour. Power down. Lock up and go home and kiss your wife and kids.