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.