Monday, May 12, 2008
When I can't sleep at night. And why.
If you take a minute and think about it, life comes down to letting go. People, your friends, your psychiatrist, your colleagues tell you to "let it go." Something bothers you, "Let it go, man, there's nothing you can do about it." The government spends more in a month on uranium depleted ammunition than they do in a year on education, "Let it go." People who make $7 an hour are allowed to trample your constitutional rights by willy-nilly going through you luggage, looking at the books you read, confiscating your toothpaste, "Let it go." A boss makes sure you never get a raise or a promotion because your drive and talent threaten him, "Let it go." Just let it go. Don't let it bother you. Let it go. Let it go. Let it go.
But being good in life, being good in advertising, being true to yourself, having integrity is about not letting go. It's about fighting for what you believe in. It's about being an obstinate son of a bitch. I don't mean it's not about listening or being adaptable or hearing another point of view. (Bill Bernbach carried around a card with him that read, "Maybe he's right") but it is about sticking to your guns once you've made up your mind and being bull-headed and relentless.
Or as Namesake Bernard Shaw put it:
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
When I can't sleep at night it's most often because of the Procrustean bed I am bid to lay in. In Greek mythology, Procrustes was a robber of Attica who tied his victims to a bed and adjusted them to its length by amputating their legs or stretching their bodies. He was killed by the hero Theseus. In other words, a Procrustean bed is an arbitrary standard to which exact conformity is forced.
No wonder I'm restless.
Posted by George Tannenbaum at 2:07 AM