- Wed, November 29 2006
- Filed under: Personal
During one point of my life, when I worked as a correspondent for Reuters, I had to file two to three stories a day, seven days a week, on every aspect of life in Cambodia. I didn’t sleep or relax much for the two years I did that, because I was constantly haunted by a sense that I was missing an important story. The fear became so strong that my lifetime recurring nightmare changed. For years, I dreamed I was a passenger in a crashing plane. When I worked for Reuters, I dreamed that I was watching a plane crash and could not tell anyone.
And then I had to cover a plane crash that killed 65 of 66 passengers on a Vietnam Airlines flight landing at Phnom Penh airport. Only a 4-year-old boy survived. The plane had overshot the runway after trying to land in low clouds and smashed into a stand of palms. Inert bodies and shattered pieces of the plane were strewn across a rice paddy, and when I arrived, villagers were scavenging the wreckage. For some reason the details I remember were a village boy, holding some dead person’s passport aloft, proudly, and the hand of a victim who was covered by a sheet. The man’s thumb peeped from the white cloth, exposing a clean, unharmed nail that formed a perfect half-moon.
It’s hard to tell this story without sounding dramatic, because it was drama of the worst kind. And the sight of that airplane made me forever impatient of all things petty and pointless. Life, I think, should be a great rush to do things that matter.
If you’re feeling worn out today, remember that your work matters. And that the faster you push to results through sheer effort or anything else, including marketing, the better. Take a few minutes to look at someone who is doing extraordinary things that matter. I got to know Scott’s work through Trent Stamp’s blog, and I remember every picture of his that I have ever seen because each fills your mind with the rush of what matters.
Images, whether a fleeting glance of a thumb or a disfigured girl transformed forever, matter profoundly. Put the images of your work over your desk to remind you what matters, and put them before your supporters so they know they matter, too.