I’m not a big believer in fate.
But I do a put a lot of stock in science.
One of my favorite laws of the physical world is this one, the conservation of energy law, or first law of thermodynamics:
“Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only change forms.”
For instance: Atoms in the sun undergo fission, the energy from which creates sunlight, which then heats our planet, which helps plants grow, which perhaps gets consumed by cows, who perhaps feed people in steakhouses, who use the energy to grow crops, which become fertilizer, which grows more plants. You get the idea. One big circle of life. Nothing ever truly disappears. It just changes its name & address and gets a face lift.
The same happens on a more metaphorical level in day-to-day life, I like to think.
When a door closes, another one opens; the trick is having the fortitude to search it out and be open to it having a different appearance than the one you were expecting.
The girl from that party you were trying to date won’t call you back? The potential energy got switched to the girl next to you on the subway. You’ve just gotta be open to it and actually look her way. You were really jonesing to make pancakes but are out of syrup? Maybe it means you’re supposed to make some amazing omelet instead. You get laid off from your job as an ACD in a big name NYC ad agency like I did last week? Maybe it means I’m supposed to reinvent myself and bring some of my other professional passions to the foreground.
So when I got laid off recently from my job as an ACD at a big midtown NYC ad agency, I didn’t really fret. I believe my potential for happiness (and income) didn’t really disappear; it just changed its name & address. Sure, I’ve gotta go figure out exactly where it resides now, but I believe it’s out there.
When I endured my first layoff in 2003, it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. I took the time off to get back in the best cycling shape of my life and go over to follow the Tour de France on bike with a bunch of friends. I was kinda interested in interactive at the time so I built a blog site to chronicle my adventures called http://chasinglance.net . My articles & feed ended up getting carried by about 10 newspapers in the Northest and in Lance’s hometown of Austin, TX, and even became the site of the day on Lance’s website once. Perhaps most significantly, when I included it in my portfolio, it became the point of difference that got me a ton of jobs because it showed my facility with digital. So, ironically, it was getting laid off that almost guaranteed the next phase of my career. The cold, hard tarmac I thought I’d crashed on was actually a launching pad.
So I’m trying to see it the same way now. I love advertising. I’ve considered it a privilege to be a part of the industry and actually get paid to come up with ideas all day—something I’d do for free in my spare time anyway. But, it’s not my only love. I’ve been a musician for twenty years, too, performing regularly in NYC & LA with one album already on iTunes, and some of my friends think it should be my main career. Easier said than done, but I did just complete my second album over the winter (using weekends, nights & vacation time to finish it) and am ready to take things to the next level. It’s all mastered & ready, and now, just when I was thinking I could really use a month off to finish the artwork, do the paperwork, re-do my sites & launch it properly—suddenly that’s exactly what I have. (Although, I guess I have a lot more than a month off…) So if anything, it’s almost like life is saying, “Oh yeah? You’re serious about this album, eh? How serious? Let’s take away your job and see.” And now I’ve got no excuse but to hit it hard. Maybe it’s exactly the push I needed.
Hmmm. Come to think of it, maybe I do believe in fate.
If you’re curious to see what I do with this push, track me down on Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, or join my email list at http://markradcliffe.net and see how it all turns out.
Whether it’s the change our industry is going through lately during this tough economy or the transition to digital, the one thing we can count on is change. Here’s to all of us embracing it & reinventing ourselves, rather than sitting around moping about how things don’t stay the same.