An important lesson from a sad passing

Joseph Merz

“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.”

I recently came across a New Zealand based art director called Linds Redding. Linds worked for a number of companies, including names like Saatchi & Saatchi and BBDO. However, it wasn’t his impressive career that caught my attention, it was his ability to put it all into perspective.

In 2011 Linds was diagnosed with an inoperable cancerous tumour. The following day he began to blog about his journey; a blog and a journey that were simultaneously cut short by his passing only two months after his last post.

Despite the underlying morbid tone of each post, there was one in particular that stood out to me, with a lesson I believe we should all take note of. Linds wrote:

“I think you’re all f***ing mad. Deranged. So disengaged from reality it’s not even funny. It’s a f***ing TV commercial. Nobody gives a s**t. This has come as quite a shock I can tell you. I think I’ve come to the conclusion that the whole thing was a bit of a con. A scam. An elaborate hoax.

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…

This was the con. Convincing myself that there was nowhere I’d rather be was just a coping mechanism. I can see that now. It wasn’t really important. Or of any consequence at all really. How could it be. We were just shifting product. Our product, and the clients. Just meeting the quota. Feeding the beast as I called it on my more cynical days.

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 s**t-load of empty Prozac boxes, wine bottles, a lot of grey hair and a tumour of indeterminate dimensions.”

It makes us ask ourselves, why is it that we sometimes ignore the truly important things in life? Is it simply because we’ve become so out of touch with the reality of our existence?

I believe it is. We’re constantly bombarded with things that appear important; things that need to be addressed today. Goals, targets, objectives, problems, whatever you want to call them! There’s no limit to the number we can create.

This is one of the reasons I’ve always been so passionate about people working for themselves- the ability to truly manage their own time, and control how they operate on a daily basis.

The need to make a living and gain satisfaction from our successes each day will probably never change, but one aspect that we can change is the way we deal with these needs. It’s as simple as working to maintain perspective. Not getting caught up in the daily grind. Knowing that it’s all really just a drop in the ocean.

So don’t wait until you’re forced to have an epiphany, listen to Linds by doing yourself a favour. Power down. Lock up and go home and kiss your wife and kids.

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