Thor Santisiri was a student of mine, from Thailand.
Thor was always very focussed on what he needed to do next.
First he needed a job at a really good agency.
In those days, CDP was easily the best.
And eventually Thor got a job as a junior there.
Next he needed to get some ads into D&AD.
He soon did that too.
Next he needed promotion.
So he took a job as a senior art director at David Abbott’s agency.
Next he wanted to be a creative director.
So he moved back to Thailand and became creative director of a large creative department, winning lots of awards.
Then he decided the next step was to start his own agency.
So he did.
And his agency became really successful, and won lots of awards.
Thor decided his next step must be to sell the agency to a bigger group.
Which meant Thor became Chairman and Executive Creative Director of TBWA.
Unfortunately, as Thor found, it also means the agency isn’t yours anymore.
So you no longer get any say in what happens next.
And this wasn’t a happy experience for Thor.
So he did something that doesn’t exist as an option for most of us.
Thor became a Buddhist monk.
He gave up the money, the awards, the big cars, the posh restaurants.
He joined a monastery, shaved his head and wore nothing but the yellow robes.
And he spent every day in prayer and meditation.
As a monk, your day starts around 4am.
You get up, wash and bathe.
Then you perform your first prayers.
Then your first meditation.
Then you do whatever jobs you’ve been allotted around the Temple.
Then you take a bowl on the streets and you beg for your food.
Thor and the other monks would beg for their food until 11.00am.
At 11.00am they had to stop eating for the day.
No more food until the next day.
Unlike his life in advertising, there was never any thought about what came next.
It was rigidly laid down.
Wake. Bathe. Pray. Meditate. Work. Beg. Eat. Meditate. Pray. Work. Meditate. Pray, Sleep.
It’s not like advertising, where you constantly ask yourself “What shall I do next?”
Because what’s next is already decided.
So all there is to think about is now.
Living in the moment.
Instead of running away from now, to what’s next.
Thor learned that life isn’t what’s next.
Life is now.
And so eventually Thor left the monastery and came back to what he truly loves.
Graphic design, photography, advertising, illustration, art.
The difference is now he knows he’s spending every minute doing what he truly loves.
It isn’t just a journey to get anywhere.
As the Buddhists say “Be here now.”
Interestingly, I only recently found out what Thor’s name means in Thai.
‘Thor’ means ‘next’.