Parting Words From A Dying Man

Linds Redding spent 25 years in the marketing business until being diagnosed with terminal esophageal cancer. Before he died in October, he wrote an article called A Short Lesson In Perspective where he shares the things he’s learned. He also laments that his job wasn’t as satisfying as he thought it was. Here are the highlights:

The trick to being truly creative, I’ve always maintained, is to be completely unselfconscious. To resist the urge to self-censor. To not-give-a-shit what anybody thinks. That’s why children are so good at it.


Our technology whizzes along at the velocity of a speeding electron, and our poor overtaxed neurons struggle to keep up. Everything has become a split-second decision. Find something you like. Share it. Have a half-baked thought. Tweet it. Don’t wait. Don’t hesitate. Seize the moment. Keep up. There will be plenty of time to repent later. Oh, and just to cover your ass, don’t forget to stick a smiley on the end just in case you’ve overstepped the mark.


It is a universal truth that all artists think they a frauds and charlatans, and live in constant fear of being exposed. We believe by working harder than anyone else we can evaded detection. The bean-counters rumbled this centuries ago and have been profitably exploiting this weakness ever since. You don’t have to drive creative folk like most workers. They drive themselves. Just wind ‘em up and let ‘em go.


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. It turns out that my training and experience had equipped me perfectly for this epic act of self-deceit.


But what I didn’t do, with the benefit of perspective, is anything of any lasting importance. At least creatively speaking. Economically I probably helped shift some merchandise. Enhanced a few companies bottom lines. Helped make one or two wealthy men a bit wealthier than they already were.

As a life, it all seemed like such a good idea at the time.

This is not the most uplifting article you will read, but it may help you realize whether you’re on the correct path.

Even more poignant is the post he writes when he knew he was going to die

“Since the last CT scan, there are new and enlarged supraclavicular and mediastinal and nodal metastases, new uper abdominal and retroperitneal nodal metastases, and new liver and pulminary metastases.”

I feel the hot burn of adrenalin wash through me. “Shit, that doesn’t sound good.” I finally announced, with what in retrospect was admirable understatement.

“No it doesn’t” says Doctor Dave.

May he rest in peace.

19 thoughts on “Parting Words From A Dying Man”

  1. The whole thing is worth reading. The computational and communication revolution of the last 20 to 30 years- which most of you can’t remember because it’s been around all your life- has been most revolutionary in enabling capitalists to squeeze more and more blood out of the turnip. No net benefit to the worker at all, in fact a slow decline in working and living conditions.
    I understand his regrets- I’m almost as old as him at his diagnosis- but they are pointless. One of the big traps in life is trying to “make a difference”. Almost nobody makes a difference, even or especially if they try real hard. Being a good human being and kind to those you come in contact with is by far the best difference you can make.
    And anything you do will be ruthlessly used by rich shits for their own purposes. If they couldn’t they wouldn’t pay you a dime. I have a pretty cool job but it is strictly in the service of rich shits. If you are a good engineer, programmer, artist, accountant, doctor, what have you, you talent and labor will be ruthlessly exploited for the benefit of the capitalist system. Unless you live in a communist country, in which case they will be ruthlessly exploited for the benefit of the communist system.
    Godspeed, Linds. It sounds like you had a pretty good life all in all. For you young guys, if you are determined to have a life without regrets, I don’t think that is likely but try anyway. Just do the best you can.

    1. He says his regret was not making something lasting and impressive. He could have quit the treadmill, lived cheap, and made something great. He’s sad that he only made a bunch of dumb commercials.
      It’s a recurring thing with great artists that they quit the city (where they were making money) for the countryside, where they then make their great works in relative isolation and peace. I think his criticism of technology is of the same vein as the age-old criticism of urban living. Too much noise and pressure.
      There are so many examples, but here’s one:
      This guy 250 years ago was making successful commercial pap, got sick of it, and moved to the countryside to live cheap and peaceful, and paint. He took much less remunerative work painting for countryside monasteries and temples. The stuff he made there will probably be famous a thousand years from now. I think Linds is just sad he never pulled that sort of gamble.

    2. “Almost nobody makes a difference, even or especially if they try real hard. Being a good human being and kind to those you come in contact with is by far the best difference you can make. ”
      On a global scale most of us won’t make a difference, but we can make a difference on the local scale, and bit by bit, the world can change, one individual at a time.

  2. The concept of “making a difference” is just a manipulation tool used by society to make those who buy the lie (because of their egos) to give to society more than they get back in return. Those who don’t or can’t then feel bad about it (like Mr Redding above). This bad feeling comes from ego.
    One should never feel bad about not having made a difference. Live your life for yourself not for society.

  3. He acts like its somebody else fault that he chose to work in advertising.
    At some point we all have to man up and nix the blame game.

  4. Who cares about making a difference, for others? The thing is to stake your claim in history for YOU, to get that record, to be one of the greats, for yourself. Not for society.
    Of course, 95% of us don’t have the guts to risk it all for a shot at being at the top. So we get on the safe hedonistic treadmill and complain and complain.
    The hardest part for the ego to swallow is to call it as it is and admit that yes, YOU are one of “most people”, and part of the 95%. Self proclaimed internet “Red pillers” like to think that they are all so different.

  5. Fucking hell. It took him until age 50 and terminal cancer to realise that pulling all-nighters chain-smoking to make an ad for washing powder isn’t the best use of a life?

  6. Even if, at a ripe old age, you’re lying in your tent on the skin of a bear you killed with your own hands, ready to pass on your empire to one of your more than able sons and a few of your wives tend your grandchildren while a few other wives cry because they will never bear your offspring, a man worth his salt will still question whether he could have done more.
    As a man, we are machines designed to produce, conquer, and surpass our competitors. There’s nothing a dying man can look back on without a little regret when he finds out his time is up. Linds is an older version of us, we are a younger version of him. If there’s anything you can take from his words, take it. Otherwise, get back in there, the world’s not going to take over itself.

  7. his advice is useless,and everyone has heard it before.
    The modern world cannot produce men without regrets, everyones life is meaningless, even Roosh is unfulfilled as a self employed writer, pussy hound and world traveller. only living like a primitive human can bring contentment and no regrets. go caveman…literally.

  8. This article rubs me the wrong way. It’s terrible advice for anybody doing creative work… or any work worth caring about, for that matter.
    Somewhere, somehow, he completely missed the point of creating. It isn’t for the trophies (which he so eloquently bashes) or the “yellowing newspaper ads” in your Book or the “this is quite good” comments from other artisans.
    I can see why he felt unfulfilled in the twilight of his life. The entire time, he was driven by the wrong motive.
    True creatives tend to not consider money = false.
    It’s all about hearing “this is quite good” from other artisans = false.
    Anything that isn’t “creatively lasting” (what does that even mean?) isn’t worth doing = false.
    Spending time with family is more important than creating (for the artist) = false.
    I hate long comments, so I won’t belabor why these things are false. It’s just important that others know that this is NOT the right way to live, or to approach your practice.

  9. Linds’ story is yet another illustration of the bleak truth that for the majority of human beings, life is not really worth living, no matter how much they kid themselves otherwise.
    Convinced believers in religion of any kind have a bit of an advantage over us atheists; reliable studies have shown that the religious enjoy better mental health. This is an example of (successfully) kidding oneself so thoroughly that it actually has a positive effect on one’s mood.
    John Milton said it best: “The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.” But very very few average people, whose lives are hellish by default, have the strength of mind to make their desperate circumstances seem more than barely, grimly tolerable.

  10. By the way, I want to point something out to young people who may be a bit nonplussed by what I said above: Your opinion on serious matters such as the meaning of life is entirely worthless until you are past forty, unless you have been through an oddysey like Roosh’s, or raised several children to adolescence, or dealt with post-traumatic stress syndrome as a result of an unlucky deployment, or had some equally formative experience.
    And I should also mention that ‘happiness studies’ are converging on a common finding — that happiness throughout life traces out a U-shaped curve: we start out as happy children, our happiness declines as we mature, until the nadir of our general mood in middle age; then it slowly and gradually increases again, and continues to increase as we become old goats (barring illness and other disasters). So if you’re a physically unattractive 20-year old man with no special talents and none of the particular attributes which turn women on in this day and age, you’re miserable now, and you’re going to become more and more miserable — but don’t worry, in 30 years you’ll hit bottom and your mood will slowly start to move in the other direction. By the time you’re 80 you’ll actually feel quite mellow!

  11. I am 48, and going through a divorce. I’ve never had children due to low sperm motility. I adopted my wife’s son 25 years ago and raised him, but since he was 18, he’s been in and out of jail (in right now). I took the red pill about a year ago, had already started lifting weights and doing low carb diet before then, and had determined I was not going to settle for a sexless life. I’m really too old to pursue 18-29 women for relationships, but early to mid 30’s is within range. I feel like I’ve been cheated by society, because I passed through my entire youth and well into middle age before I found out vital information about dealing with women and about weight loss that actually works. To summarize, my life has not been ideal.
    Nevertheless, I find that it really is possible to be genuinely happy, and that life is actually pretty good. I would say this is true even of my blue pill days. Life can certainly be difficult, but here’s the key. With effort, you can get your shit together, and have a comfortable home, a life filled with friends and loved ones, satisfying accomplishments, and moments of great beauty, whether it’s walking in the mountains, smoking a joint and listening to the coolest music, bowling a 200 game, or seeing a perfect sunset. There are always unfortunate souls, who are seemingly cursed to a shitty life. However, almost everyone reading this comment has the realistic likelihood of being able to have a satisfying life.

    1. I appreciate your comment. 2 years ago you wrote this. How are things going? Just a curious reader here….

    2. “With effort, you can get your shit together, and have a comfortable home, a life….”
      Its been 3 years you posted this. How are things with you now?

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