Don’t Panic


For those of you who like your humour British, satirical and relentlessly funny Don’t Panic are, of course, the words inscribed on the outside of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, the fictional electronic book from the imagination of the brilliant Douglas Adams.

They’ve also, over the years, become my go-to words when life, work or a combination of both start to threaten my mental wellbeing. Often this involves a re-read of the entire book, sometimes it’s just seeing those words written down – but I can’t recall them failing to give me pause and a moment to reflect.

(Of course, were one to have some Ol’ Janx Spirit handy then a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster could also have been employed successfully for such reflection!)

My plan for this year, once my annual bonus had been confirmed, was to get those words tattooed on my left inside forearm. I already have four tattoos that are special to me and a Douglas Adams-inspired artwork with those two amazing words and a host of other H2G2 images (a whale, a babel fish, a bowl of petunias) was going to top them all.

It’s no coincidence Don’t Panic was going on the same arm as my Jimmy Buffett tattoo – the lyric ‘If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane’. Which Jimmy himself approved of when I met him in Wellington in 2017, one of the greatest moments of my life. He then autographed the tattoo and I had that inked on me too, a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling as he, himself, once sung.

Life intervened, however, and now that bonus has gone into the pool of money I have to live on until I’m next gainfully employed and the tattoo has been consigned to the wish-list. But those words came to me today as I was out on my run and my brain started to throw all those worst-case scenarios at me:

  • What happens if you NEVER get a job again?
  • How long will that pool of money last if I never snack again?
  • Can I possibly survive without gigabit fibre internet?
  • Oh shit, what happens when I can’t pay the mortgage?

And then another brilliant Douglas Adams quote came to mind, distracting my brain even further from its dastardly over-thinking.

This must be Thursday,’ said Arthur to himself, sinking low over his beer. ‘I never could get the hang of Thursdays.

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

Those brief moments of joy were enough to let the negativity flow away (at least for a while) and I made it home, another 10km of exercise under the belt and a more positive outlook ahead of another day of job searching and finger-crossing.

And, thankfully, I have those couple of words I can concentrate on to keep me from losing perspective next time it happens, as it undoubtedly will. For those of you, like me, who are unemployed, worried and waiting for that next opportunity then take a breath and repeat after me…


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