My all-time favorite book is The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Actually, I enjoyed all five of the books by Adams in what he referred to as the “increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhikers Trilogy”. In broad strokes, the books follow the misadventures of the last surviving human, Arthur Dent, just after the unfortunate demolition of Earth in order to make way for a hyperspace bypass. The Guide in the book is a sort of e-book that pre-imagines Google years before it was founded. But unlike Google, it has the friendly and helpful words, “Don’t Panic” on its cover. According to the guide, a towel, shown here, is “just about the most massively useful thing any interstellar Hitchhiker can carry.” The books are absurd and brilliant, which is why I loved each and every one of them so much.
The first book in the series was published in 1979, but not until 1980 here in the States, and more followed throughout the 80’s into the early 90’s. I remember being so excited for the release of the latest book, as I loved the style of writing. It was conversational and witty and didn’t seem to be overly crafted. It made me want to be a writer, and as I started college, I would begin as an English major. I remember one class vividly that I loved, mostly because the teacher was so enthusiastic and seemed to genuinely want to be there. I was assigned a project to write a short children’s allegory and ended up getting carried away and came back with 16 handwritten chapters of a book. She smiled at me kindly, as you might to a pet, and suggested I simply turn in my favorite chapter. I found the pages years later and decided to finish and publish it. Not because it was all that amazing, but simply because it felt good to complete something that I’d started.
Thinking back to those days, though, I’m pretty happy with how everything turned out. I may not have become a bestselling author like in my dreams, but I’ve had some amazing adventures. And through it all, I have to say that “Don’t Panic” is probably the best advice I’ve ever received. No matter what life tends to throw my way, I’ve always remembered this sage advice. It’s how I approach every new doodlewash in my sketchbook, even when I’ve chosen something perfectly difficult to sketch. And it’s how I’ve always approached life in general as well. So, if you’re starting a new journey or contemplating doing something that you’ve never tried before, just go for it and enjoy the adventure that comes next. Don’t Panic. And if you think of it, remember to bring a towel.
About the Doodlewash
M. Graham Watercolors: Cobalt Teal, Gamboge, Permanent Green Pale, Burnt Sienna, and Ultramarine Blue. Sennelier: Opera Rose. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal.
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