A few centuries ago, I graduated from high school and went into the minimum wage working world without a plan. I figured my future was going to be very difficult and that I would have to be very tough. I was right. Two years later, I was in a band and working harder than I ever thought possible. Plans went as far as the next tour or album. Beyond that, I dared myself to keep things happening and stayed away from stability and the adult path. To me, it seemed like retirement and total capitulation, a way to not have to think anymore. I reckoned I had two choices: I live life or it lives me.
This point of view might be fine for a young person, but to have it be your working template might make things challenging decades on. I can tell you with all certainty that it indeed does, and that I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I plan a year at a time and treat the 12 months like a blank canvas. By month 12, I want to have filled the entire space and be exhausted. The last half of December is used for recovery and preparation for the year to come.
2017 is upon us all. A few months ago, well into 100 shows of the 140-plus I did in 19 countries last year, I told my agents that for 2017 I was interested in pretty much anything in television or film and would be ready to go to meetings and make a fool of myself at auditions. If anything comes of that, I will know one way or the other soon. Hopefully, if I get employment in that sector, that will be my temporary "straight" job. Once that’s set, I will start mapping a course for other activities. I am not interested in wandering lost through life or going where the winds arbitrarily push me, but I am definitely not looking to walk into a bank five days a week for 30 years.
At the beginning of any new year, my primary objective is to go forward as fearlessly as possible and put myself into situations that force me to innovate and grow. The idea that you can ever be too old for this model is, to me, a traditional idea that will drain your life force in no time flat.
Many people adhere to traditional and acceptable routines by which to live their lives. When I was in school, my instructors attempted to beat it into our heads that this was the best and only way to go. I saw the future for all my classmates – four years of beer drinking at university, then marrying up and breeding prodigiously as soon as they locked in that steady company job. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life but I knew a few things I wasn’t going to do. Adventure until death.
From issue #783 (February 2017), available now.
Topics: Henry Rollins