40 Letters . 5 Paul
I want to take time to thank 40 people who have had an impact on me and my life. Each person to whom I write has shaped me and is partly to ‘blame’ for the person I am becoming!!! Letter five is to the creative director of my placement year design agency.
This is a strange letter to write because I think that the thing you said to me was supposed to have the opposite effect. You told me that I could be a great designer but that I would have to make sacrifices.
I was so massively encouraged; I respected your creativity and resolve to see the world as it could be or perhaps as it should be. I loved the abandon of realism and probability and the striving for a beauty and simplicity in all you did. In the moments that followed I resolved that the cost was not worth paying. I felt welcome with you and the team. I felt that I could perhaps do anything.
You gave me an incredible foundation and exposure to creative people and industry. You encouraged me to be better and thorough. You gave me the opportunity to explore graphic design. But, in that encouragement you also helped me to come to a place of peace. Peace that pure creativity wasn’t the only thing that mattered. At least not to me. I chose priorities in the minutes that followed as I left your office. I chose family and I chose rhythm. Priorities that still stand today.
Recently I was at a writing seminar and was introduced to the same decision. To be a great author I needed to make sacrifices. I remained as resolute as I had been standing nervously before you. I have priorities and I make sacrifices. So today, I’m a designer and I’m an author, and I am so many things beside.
And thanks to your encouragement, I am choosing to be great and I am making sacrifices. But I’m choosing to be a great dad (hopefully). I’m choosing to be a great husband (hopefully). Choosing to be a great son, and friend, and encourager and follower of God. At least those are the things I am invested in.
I think I might have drifted without that conversation in your smoke-filled office! I think I would have found greatness or even celebrity as a designer. But I realised that those things were not what I truly wanted, or needed or were made for.
So thank you for being a part of my life, thank you for bringing clarity to young man as he started on the adventure of adulthood. Thank you for saving me from becoming someone less or other than I am.