When I think of the formative things in my life, there are obviously a bunch of ’em. In terms of the shaping of my sense of humour, though, the standouts are the Canadian sketch comedy troupe The Frantics, and Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy.
So, with the culmination of Inspiration Week falling on Day Forty-Two of this podcast, I’d say the stars are definitely aligned.
There are, in fact, two key things that you can take from The Hitchhiker’s Guide that will be useful in daily life. The first is, as stated, the words in large, friendly letters on the cover. “Don’t Panic.”
That is helpful. As Arthur Dent says, “it’s the first helpful or intelligible thing anybody has said to me all day.”
I don’t know if there’s much to add here. Don’t Panic. It’s good advice. There is almost no time in life in which it is not useful. Don’t panic.
Always Know Where Your Towel Is.
Being the nascent nerd I was in high school, when my slightly older friend and fellow Hitchhiker’s fan Iain left for university, I bought a towel and some fabric paint and gave him a towel that said “always know where your towel is.” I was surprised and gratified to see last year that he still has it, a quarter-century on.
Here’s the radio bit explaining why this is important:
…this one is a little harder to parse than “Don’t Panic,” but basically boils down to “have your baseline shit together.” At least, that’s my takeaway. Projects, extracurriculars, hobbies, all of those peripherals can be in some sort of state of disarray. You gotta know where your towel is. Shelter, food, sleep. Those are the towel, in my mind. If you know where your towel is, then you’re free to start worrying about the secondaries.
But — thanks to Iain — whenever I think of “always know where your towel is,” the other thought is doing nice shit for people is nice. I spent maybe a half-hour making this towel because I thought it would be cool and my friend has had it hanging around his house for 25 years. That’s a hell of a return on investment.
So there y’go! Inspiration Week is over. I had fun doing this. I’m definitely going to be doing more theme weeks in the future; I think it will be regular chaos for at least the next seven days, though.