Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A conversation with a daughter.

My older daughter is currently a doctoral student, in the first year of a multi-year program to become a Clinical Psychologist. I'm lucky enough, blessed really, to enjoy an incredibly close relationship with her. We've had our rough patches over the years--what father and daughter haven't--but we have ironed most things out, and those we haven't, well, we enjoy or appreciate the wrinkles. They give our relationship some necessary texture.

We talk a couple times a day--usually in the morning when she is on her way to work or to her clinical placements, and also in the evening when she is on her way home. This is good. Time for us to connect and have a virtual glass of whiskey together and to prepare for or decompress from our days.

This evening my daughter went on. That's her prerogative. She's my daughter, she's 24, and as someone once said to me about her, "she has a lot under her hat."

She talked about some of her co-workers at her residential site that deals with kids from violent and/or abusive backgrounds. How some--many--of the permanent staff hasn't the patience with their patients, they regard them with disdain, as people to be lorded over, as trouble-makers and pains in the ass.

My daughter on the other hand is out to change the world. She's mad at a world that produces children like these and who, having produced them, shows them so little love, attention and care. A world that can't seem to find the hope in their hearts to help them.

I told my daughter that she is an idealist. She isn't merely trying to get her degree and pass some patients along, she is trying to change the world. I told her the challenge in her job and in life is to continue to hold onto your idealism. To not get blase, cynical or jaded.

The same, of course, holds true in our business.

I have been in it for almost 30 years now. Since 1984.

I still fight for buckslips. I fight for banner ads. I fight to hold onto the soul of a speech I write for a client or a line of copy. I fight to make good ads--I don't always win, but I fight--because I hold onto my idealism that good work matters.

It's easy in our industrial advertising age in which we are beckoned to output tonnage, to give up. It's easy to lose hope amid the petty technocrats who allocate and usability and timesheet you nearly into oblivion. It's easy to say "it doesn't make a difference." Or "it's just a job." Or "I just have to get this done."

It's easy to give up your idealism.

Every time you hear a computer chime, an angel loses his wings.

But the quest to be human, is a quest to--amid all the iniquities and inequites, amid all the banalities and bastards, the quest to be human is the quest to keep caring. The quest to keep your ideals. The quest to hold onto hope.

If you've lost that, you've lost.


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Ciaran said...

Great post. As Howard Gossage said to Dugald Stermer "Changing the world is the only fit work for a grown person."
He said 'man' not 'person,' but I'm sure he wouldn't mind. Bet you and your daughter will cry watching this:

JM Creative said...

Nice one George. I admire the depth of your relationship w/ your daughter, who you obviously hold in high regard (as all dads should).

My daughter is 5. These conversations are all too easy to imagine, so for now I'm happy to stick to her brilliantly borderless fantasies and ticklefights.

For me, fighting fo my ideals meant leaving the big agency and embracing my multidisciplinary self. Now it feels less like fighting and more like winning.

So now I'll fight to hold onto that!

Tore Claesson said...

George, you're beautiful inside and out.

Bukes said...

Thanks, Geo.