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.

Sleep tight.


Laura said...

Your Procrustean bed reminds me of your entry "Little boxes through the ages" in a way and how standardized and confining they all are in reality and in philosophy. Letting go seems to negate everthing you stand for and this is not unreasonable. Speaks more to one's passion and belief.

Tina said...

The corporatization and "stupidization" of America does not allow freedom of thought or expression. Different is bad, and conformity and passivity will get you promoted. Just be quiet, take your stimulus check and go to Sears to buy the flat HDTV that you need to get your "survivor" fix. Its enough to drive anyone insane. This morning when i took the dirty train into my job where I'm paid to acquiesce, I saw the United States as a third world country where we don't have any money left to educate our children or repair our streets because we've sold our country to the highest bidder. Where we've got no industry because we outsourced it to China and India and where we are left with nothing because people do not value what this country used to stand for, big ideas and courage to stand alone. Its scary how much people will ignore to get along. I read somewhere that the most difficult thing in life is pretending to be something you are not. I think that is true so keep on fighting the good fight. You are not alone!

george tannenbaum said...

Bun, who are you?

Tina said...

I'm one of your protégées from a former job - big digital agency... i know people here read your blog so i'd like to keep my anonymity. i emailed you my identity.

(also i meant the lowest bidder, not the highest- of course...)

Unknown said...

I'm bringing this posting to my shrink so I can say, "See! I'm not the only one!"