Today is the birth anniversary day of a potential poster boy for work/life balance dysfunction, the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Notoriously driven and notoriously difficult, Wright once said “No house should ever be on a hill…it should be of the hill…so hill and house could live together each the happier for the other.” Well, if old Frank’s personal life was the house, and his work life was the hill, that structure went sliding down the incline faster than a Hollywood producer’s hot tub during a mudslide. (For a thumbnail on his tumultuous life, check out the Wikipedia entry.)
But let’s face it, most of us think of the interior and exterior of Wright’s buildings, and not the interior and exterior of his tortured soul. And this kind of ticks me off. Because here I am trying to champion work/life balance, only to be confronted with a harsh truth: if you get really, really well-known, the general public tends to favor your public accomplishments over your private screw-ups. So, for now, I am going to continue working on prioritizing my wife and family over my job, but in the meantime I am working on several projects which may get me off the hook if I blow it before I die. You may also want to consider covering your tracks with some of these suggestions:
COMPOSE A SYMPHONY – With the advancements in home computer software currently available, composing a masterpiece at home is easier than ever. Simply take your laptop to the nearest symphony hall, and stand there on the stage waving your conductor’s baton. You will be praised as a mad genius, and beloved the world over despite the fact that you can never remember your anniversary.
PIONEER A BRAVE NEW ARCHITECTURAL STYLE – Using Frank Lloyd Wright as your inspiration, start obsessing about how a house can be integrated into its environment so much that eventually your loved ones give up and leave you alone. Win-win.
BECOME A ROCK STAR – With the Rolling Stones “Depends” tour surely just around the corner, there’s plenty of time to lose a disturbing amount of weight, wear torn sleeveless t-shirts and treat your roadies like crap. Rock star is one of the best barometers of the fine line between “pain in the butt” and “temperamental artist.” Make enough money and you will be known as the latter.
There are plenty of other ways to achieve notoriety that could help you skate by if your work/life balance remains an issue. In fact, Frank Lloyd Wright’s son John invented Lincoln Logs. Of course, the reason this isn’t more widely known is that John just wasn’t as messed up as his father.
What crowning achievement can you work toward that will stack the deck in your favor?