“Life is short. Show up and do stuff.” – Henry Rollins, ACRL 2013
When my boss suddenly said “I’d like you to go to ACRL” I squealed. No exaggeration, my reaction to being asked to go to a librarian conference was fangirl in its explosion. Of course, at that time I already knew that Henry Rollins was a keynote speaker and had sighed that I wouldn’t be able to go. Yes, I like going to conferences and hearing about new ideas in my field, but this was Henry Rollins. And I’d been a fan since before I even made it to high school let alone a career.
I’ve never seen Henry live. It’s just one of those things that didn’t happen. I’ve just never been the type of person to check newspapers all the time to see who’s coming to town and so I’d hear about it after it’d already happened. Of course then came the internet and I could just watch clips of Henry and that was fine enough for me. But I read articles in magazines he’d written and, honestly, some of those articles shaped the way I see certain things. I guess the point is, I’ve watched him evolve through the years and go from musician to… Henry Rollins.
So I ran up when it was time for his speech and I sat in the front row on the side (front row center was reserved). I stood in line for about an hour to get his book signed and I took two signed posters away (your welcome, R). And it was awesome. He seems like a really genuine person, like no amount of fame has ever touched him personally. He talked about his life, his personal history, his passions, and his concerns for the future. And there’s a message in all that, I think. At least one I took away.
Life is short, show up and do stuff. I don’t think anyone could ever accuse the man of sloth. That was the biggest impression people could get from the speech. He talked about all the different stuff he was doing, places he went, experiences he had. And that direct quote could be taken a few different ways. At first I was ashamed, as I usually am when I think of my non-writing, because I don’t feel like I do enough. But today, a few days later, as I write this blog I feel slightly different. Yes, I’m still embarrassed that I don’t write as much as I feel I should and I would be embarrassed to have a conversation with the man himself and have him realize I don’t do shit. Let’s set that aside for a moment.
Life is short, show up and do stuff. This also reminds me of that line from Grumpy Old Men or perhaps the line from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile you might miss it.” It’s one of the philosophies on life that I hold most important. I try to live by it, and sometimes I get a bit lazy along the way. But when an opportunity presents itself I think “what are you going to remember in 10 years? The weekend you went to Woodstock 99 or the weekend you stayed home watching TV?” And then I sigh, push away my misgivings, and go do some stuff I’ll remember.
I should put a picture on my desk of Henry Rollins, judging me for not writing.