Keeping score


I don’t know about you, but I’m occasionally struck by a sense of frustration that I haven’t really achieved anything yet. Since I was in my teens I’ve developed a bad habit of occasionally comparing my age to that of people I admire; I see things like the new King Kong and realise it was created by someone just a few years older than me; I watch a documentary of Michelangelo and discover he painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling when he was thirty-seven … well, I could go on and on.

Of course, in my late teens and early twenties I could always convince myself that I had plenty of time to paint a Sistine Chapel of my own, but as the big four-oh looms it’s getting a bit trickier to maintain that deception. Have you ever noticed how so many famous creative people did their best work in their twenties and thirties?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of what I’ve achieved as a graphic designer, and I don’t have self-esteem problems as a rule. I can’t imagine doing anything else for a living, and eleven years working for myself is something to be proud of. But I sometimes ask myself if I’m ever going to create something really memorable—something that impacts culture, or inspires people … even changes their lives. And as I get older, the possibility that I will seems to get smaller.

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. anaglyph
    Nov 02, 2005 @ 15:08:48

    Chill Pete. It only takes an instant to become famous – you just have to be prepared for the right opportunity.

  2. UniversalHead
    Nov 02, 2005 @ 15:19:55

    Fame would be interesting to experience, and I’m not denying I’d like to try it on for size, but you can be famous these days even if you’re as dull as a cement mixer. It’s more the satisfaction of creating something that is important to a large group of people, that sparks their imaginations … and of course the whole ‘being remembered’ thing as well I suppose.

  3. Seeker
    Nov 03, 2005 @ 17:29:14

    How large does the “group” need to be to qualify a work as important? How many need to remember you or your work to justify your existence?
    Sometimes the small things make the most impact and they can grow in unforeseen ways. Don’t forget to look deeper into life’s small opportunities.

  4. UniversalHead
    Nov 03, 2005 @ 21:05:19

    Well, that’s an interesting question/clarification, and just goes to show how musings of this sort fall apart under sensible scrutiny! I never said the whole thing didn’t smack of more than a little immaturity on my part …

  5. James Wallis
    Nov 04, 2005 @ 11:27:24

    Dude, I believe I sent you a statue recently with your name and the words “Origins Award” on it. It may not have changed the world, but it shook a few things up in the gaming community.

  6. UniversalHead
    Nov 04, 2005 @ 11:39:14

    Whaaa! But I want more! (sucks thumb)

  7. Annie
    Nov 05, 2005 @ 09:37:44

    As they say in the classics . . . I reckon what you’re talking about is a quest for immortality. A noble quest indeed. I think it’s great to have such a grand theme playing in your life. But can I say, without being too banal, you are already ‘immortal’ in the context of your loved ones. Does that make sense?

  8. Daniel
    Nov 10, 2005 @ 12:00:01

    Your original post is the most lucid and profound thing I have ever read on a blog and also far exceeds the value of most any thought that I have ever seen in any print media.

  9. UniversalHead
    Nov 10, 2005 @ 14:21:40

    Daniel, I must be a bit slow today, that took me a good ten minutes to get – brilliant!! 🙂
    … if only it were true!

  10. Daniel
    Nov 27, 2005 @ 18:05:14

    True that your thoughts might rise to the level of genuinely profound? Perhaps true that I in my (limit?) experience haven’t sensed quite the same sense of closeness-of-feeling or connectedness to the thought that seems to run behind the original post? Where does your scepticism lie? Though modesty may provoke you to deny the first my point was to convey a sincere sense of the later.

  11. UniversalHead
    Nov 27, 2005 @ 18:14:20

    I don’t mean to be rude Daniel, but as much as I appreciate your contributions, I didn’t understand that at all!

  12. Daniel
    Dec 08, 2005 @ 01:49:40

    Maybe I need to think less about what I’m trying to say and just say it – I feel that you made a really good point that I can empathize with.
    What I didn’t get was your comment of “… if only it were true!” – this left me puzzled – are you saying that you don’t deserve my praise?

  13. UniversalHead
    Dec 08, 2005 @ 08:43:20

    Hi Daniel, let me explain … I thought that you were being ironic in your first post—us Australians have a tendency for ironic humour. Because your comment was so over the top (do you really think my post was “the most lucid and profound thing I have ever read on a blog and also far exceeds the value of most any thought that I have ever seen in any print media”?), I assumed that you were making a joke by saying it was so incredible, and thus I had actually achieved the greatness I was whinging about, by writing the post. Get it? That’s why I said it took me a while to ‘get’ your post, and that’s why I said “if only it were true!”—ie, if only you weren’t being ironic and it really was such a great piece of writing.
    But if you were being sincere, well, I’m bowled over by your effusive praise, touched that it made such an impression and very glad you can relate to my humble bit of writing so intensely. Thank you!
    Sorry for the confusion. I value your readership Daniel, keep coming back!