Just do it

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I’ve been following the controversy about David Dimbleby getting a tattoo at 75. Although on the surface it’s quite a trivial story, the Question Time presenter’s tat seems to have sparked a national debate about what comprises appropriate behaviour for OAPs, with passionate voices both for and against the scorpion on his shoulder. “I have always wanted a tattoo,” said Dimbleby. “I thought I might as well have it done now. It’s a dream come true.”

In one interview, a tattoo artist said, “I’ve tattooed people in their mid-70s. I love it. What I seem to notice is that they all say the same thing: ‘I’ve wanted this for years, but I was never sure it was a good idea.’ So having the tattoo, it’s like watching them break free of everything, and realise the time has come to do what they want to do.”

That sense of ‘the time has come’ has been on my mind this week with the news that my old friend Pat Richer has been murdered, aged just 39 (see post below). I’m struggling right now to get my head around this tragedy but it has given me a much-needed kick up the arse. I’ve always been a fan of impatience. The whole concept of ‘waiting’ seems to me to imply you’re OK with allowing priceless seconds, minutes, hours, days of your life slip through your fingers like grains of sand. Sod that.

In Chris Evans’ brilliant autobiography, he talks about his father’s death being “like the starter pistol going off in my life.” I always remember a piece of advice Dave Trott gave to Graham Fink when he was trying to get his first job. Fink had been to shedloads of interviews without any success. Starting to get desperate, he went to see Dave Trott and asked what he should do. Dave responded with one word: “Panic.” I love the way that this is the exact opposite of what society usually tells us to do. The received wisdom is to not panic, to stay calm, to be patient and polite, to wait and see. But – as the tragic news about Pat reminded me this week – there simply isn’t time for that. Whether we want to think about it or push it to the back of our consciousness, the sobering reality is that our time on this planet is inescapably finite. A sense of urgency is vital.

So whether it’s getting a tattoo or changing jobs, starting a creative project or finishing a project, reaching out to an old friend or changing the direction of your life in some scary, fundamental way – sod waiting for the right time/right circumstances/right person to give you permission. JFDI. Today. Now. As Bob Dylan – a man who knows a thing or two about getting stuff done – once sung ominously, “It’s not dark yet/But it’s getting there.”

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About antmelder
Creative Partner at DDB Sydney; passionate vegetarian; lover of books, boxing and Bruce Springsteen.

2 Responses to Just do it

  1. Rob Hatfield says:

    “I know it looks like I’m moving, but I’m standing still…”
    I must admit, these types of thoughts have been encroaching on my usually positive and dutiful conforming mindset as of late. The lure of chucking it all and hitting the road to live what will most likely be the last decade of my life is becoming a siren song. Yet the fear has my feet set in concrete. And the fact that I have the responsibility for others (that includes pets) muddies the equation. I am haunted by the prospect of looking back at my life at the very end to realize that all I did was pay the bills. Terrifying. Your advice is excellent. Following it is the hard part.

  2. antmelder says:

    I hear you, Rob. The fear of making bold moves vs the fear of getting to the end of your life and regretting playing it safe. It’s a Catch-22 that I find exhausting and paralysing – it’s tempting to push the whole thing to the back of your mind and do nothing. That’s why I think reminders of our mortality are useful. They remind us that doing nothing is a choice too and if we go that route, in the end, we’ll have to accept the consequences. Anyway, none of this is rocket science is it? As you say, actually having the balls to do stuff is the hard part.

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