Every once and a while I go and re-read ‘A Short Lesson in Perspective’ by Linds Redding. Mr. Redding was an ad man who was diagnosed with cancer. He started a blog detailing his experience going through treatment. One of his posts went viral, you may have had someone share it with you on Facebook a couple of years ago.
Even if you have a faint memory of it, I would urge you to go and read it again. It’s haunting. When I replace his references to working in advertising with working in VFX, the effect on me is profound.
He writes with the clarity of someone looking at their mortality right in the eye. Tell me if this passage doesn’t strike a chord in you:
"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 takeaway 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 fucking mad. Deranged. So disengaged from reality it’s not even funny. It’s a fucking TV commercial. Nobody gives a shit."
Near the end of the piece, he says: “But what I didn’t do, with the benefit of perspective, is anything of any lasting importance.” I would respectfully disagree.
Reading his essay serves as an important reminder to me that, at the end of the day, we’re making entertainment. I can only speak for myself but there are times at work when I can get pretty stressed out. Often I’m given a shot and I’ll wonder how the hell am I going to do this? The elements are wrong, the deadline is too tight, you know all the familiar reasons. It’s times like that when I need to remember Linds’ essay, to keep it all in perspective.