Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An Echo Of Milton Glaser's 10

For the original, see "Ten Things I Have Learned", by Milton Glaser

1 You can only work for people that you like.

This depends on what you mean by work, but it seems like the key word here is "for". I prefer "with". It's possible to work for almost anyone, but possible only to work with those whom you trust, admire, feel comfortable with, and are inspired by. And then it isn't work anyway.

2 If you have a choice never have a job.

There is a quick test for job security. If someone can walk up to you any day, at any time, and say "You're fired", then you have a job. If you have a job you can lose it. And in this case it's worse, since any random drone can take it away. Go back to item one, look at it, and try to find the place and the people that make you want to sing.

3 Some people are toxic. Avoid them.

Think about it. Are you spending your time with people who are sore losers, and also sore winners? Are they obsessed with fear, hate, and greed? Toxicity always revolves around those qualities. Toxic people focus on the past and fear the future. They're always gnawing on an old bone and growling. There is no hope, and never even a feeling of freedom. Being with them is being in prison.

4 Professionalism is not enough or the good is the enemy of the great.

To the novice anything is possible, but to the expert, at best, only one thing is. I've worked with people who defined professionalism as being what clothes you wore, or even better, the act of wearing a tie. Professionalism in its best sense spins off of what people do but never inspires their actions. Procedures are for drones. Policies define broad guidelines within which humans can be human and use their own judgement.

5 Less is not necessarily more.

Sometimes less is only less. Sometimes more is only more. It's best to start by knowing what you are doing and what you need to get done. Then you can add or delete to sharpen your point.

6 Style is not to be trusted.

Style is like professionalism. It comes from the work but doesn't create the work. If style was really important then there would never be a new style. Styles would be immutable. Style is a byproduct of creativity and simply falls out. Not everyone can create a style or even follow one, and anyway it is a result of reflection and analysis and not inherent.

7 How you live changes your brain.

This is subtle but obvious. The only requirement is to pay attention and then you'll see it happen. Until I began photographing with transparency film did I not notice how blue shadows are. That was years ago, and it's still with me. If you aren't a photographer or a careful painter you won't see this. The same applies to any creative endeavor. It takes constant work to be creative, and then after some while it continues to take effort, but the paths are well known.

8 Doubt is better than certainty.

I remember hearing Anne Lamott say that the opposite of faith is not doubt but certainty. Certainty equates to hubris. Hubris equates to aggressive stupidity. Stupidity is not good. Doubt is a gentle guide which can lead one to unexpected and wonderful places. Doubt is better than certainty. Any day.

9 On aging.

It doesn't matter, as Glaser says. Noting matters. We're all dead. Cemeteries are full of indispensable people. Even if age did matter, what are you going to do about it? Really. Stop to think for a while and you realize that life itself is horrific. No matter who you are or what's going on, you get to this conclusion. The next step is to ask yourself what you're going to do about it. It doesn't matter. You can go on and see what happens next, or not go on. You'll get to the "not go on" soon enough no matter what. No one really knows what life is or if it's got a point. The universe does not care. If it cared then everything wouldn't be eating everything else. Did it ever occur to you what a huge waste it is for one animal to be eaten by another, or for millions of plants to be eaten before they reproduce? The universe doesn't care. It's overflowing with waste and loss. Therefore it must not be waste and loss. Somehow. Or else we have no clue at all. I don't think we have a clue. It doesn't matter. This is a rich place. It can throw us away, all of us, and never notice.

10 Tell the truth.

Lie to others and you are lying to yourself. Lie to yourself and you are lost. Therefore do not lie. There will be trouble because of the truth, but trouble is all life is anyway. It's idiots all the way down. Euripides: "Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish." Right?

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