Make some money, have some fun, and leave some tracks.

This was an aphorism given to me by my last mentor whom I only had a few years to work with before he retired. And like most of what he offered me, it was years before it made any sense especially when you’re in the midst of ego and business building. The point was reinforced again this past week when a designer who I’ve worked with for several years was cutting down his days and slowly segueing into retirement himself. He was a former partner who was slowly being bought out, and suddenly found himself at the margins of the business.

We were standing in the conference room where several of our packaging designs were on display, Picking one up and carefully wrapping his hands around it, he poked at the openings, pulled the product out, weighed it in his hands and then carefully put it back in place. He then turned to me with a bit of a melancholy grin and said, “we did some good work.”

We did. And we do.

This morning I was reading an entry by the illustrator Austin Kleon:

…creativity doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Creativity is not an end, but a means. A tool for making things exist that don’t currently exist. You can use it to save the planet, or you can use it to ruin it. When we celebrate the act of creativity regardless of its purpose, we get slogans like “make your mark.” As if making a mark is always a good thing….Not every mark that can be made should be made.

Maybe we could borrow a phrase from medicine:

“First, do no harm.”

Or maybe that’s too weak. Too passive. So maybe this:

“Leave things better than you found them.”

Make some money, have some fun, leave some tracks…and leave things better than you found them.

Not so bad a list to have…

Street-Art-by-Pejac-in-Madrid-Spain Street art by Pejac
via Street Art Utopia