Often the conversations you have with people are considered amazing because they challenge you on an intellectual level. When I used to work and speak with Fitzy everyday I always remembered how he made me feel. If I was having a doozy day and needed a dose of laughter I went to him, every morning I would make an effort to say hello and get a daily giggle in. He is a well-spirited and energising person. Optimistic, yet a realist. And I can proudly state, THE funniest man I know. I love his humour, his liveliness and how he makes you better off in his presence. When he left the country to go chase a career abroad I was guttered, for my own lack of getting to see him regularly, but so proud that he was moving on and continuing to chase down his dreams.
Fitzy is a writer, he works for one of the world’s leading ad agencies, but his depth of writing is more than tag lines and ad copy, he performs stand up comedy, writes short films, screenplays and just great stories, insights, quotes and anecdotes. He’s one of the lucky ones, who gets to perform his passion everyday at work. Through skyping him for this interview I found out a few other things he feels strongly about, and how making them part of his every day supports his happiness in life…
L: So tell me, what does having a passion mean to you?
D: It is something completely intangible. It’s a feeling that swells up. I feel like it’s something you’re born with, or it’s inherent in you. You might discover it as a child, or it was something you loved doing as a kid. Most of the happiest people I know have a passion. Those that are lost or searching, they haven’t yet discovered what makes them happy. One good way to consider it is to ask, ‘if money was no problem, what would I spend my day doing?’ And then start taking steps towards it.
L: What exactly does living with passion mean?
D: Having a passion makes you feel alive, in transcends boundaries, it’s hard to explain, you just know it and want more and more of it. It should be taught to kids at an early age, how to identify and channel it. I think school teaches you to ‘parrot’ finding a passion. They don’t let kids discover what it means to them individually. You’re trained how to fit in with society and not necessarily to think and feel for yourself. As George Carlin said “don’t teach your children how to read, teach them to question what they read”.
L: So what would you say are some of your passions?
D: Writing. Luckily, that’s how I make a living. The sea, just being in the salty water and being able to look out into its vast expanse, plus scuba diving, swimming, and attempting to surf – please make sure you write that I am not an accomplished surfer, I don’t want people to think I can surf when I can’t. Write this… my enthusiasm far outweighs my ability! Also, being outdoors, and trail running. I’m addicted to the endorphins I get from running.
L: Talk me through how you got into writing?
D: I can’t remember this, but my Mum tells the story of when I was young, probably about 7 or 8, and I was really sick with a fever and in bed for days. Apparently in the middle of the night I got up and just started writing, pages and pages, going through reams of paper, I was writing stories and couldn’t stop, at one stage I ran out of what to write about so I started making up random words to myself, for hours. At school I loved writing, English was my favourite subject. I loved essays, stories, books, writing comedy skits and routines.
L: How did you discover the ocean, coming from the UK?
D: I moved to Australia when I was 24 and now I am in San Fran. No matter where I am in the world I will get in the water. It’s freezing here, but I know it cleans out my head, connects me with a spiritual side. When I was in Bondi I just needed to see or be in the ocean most days.
L: And running, what does running do for you?
D: I hated running until I was about 27, so it was a later discovery for me. Then one day something just clicked and I decided to persevere until I enjoyed it. In a short amount of time I became obsessed with it, able to run further and enjoying it more and more, I run over 10 miles a day now and recently ran the San Fran marathon. My day is noticeably worse if something stops me running. I might do a 100-mile run next like my mate Cuz does, but then again Cuz is a lunatic, he’ll only stop running when his legs file down to stumps.
L: Ha! That’s fantastic, how did you build up to the marathon?
D: I run each day to and from work, and make sure I run a half marathon every Sunday. Back when I hated running, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to make a full marathon. It’s weird my body adjusted to it really well, I had to tweak my mind to say to myself, ‘you’re in for the long haul’, and weirdly when I got to the half mark, I just kept going, there was no way I was going to give up, the human mind is seriously awesome. The only thing that nearly stopped me was some students handing out beer disguised as water at one point. As I lifted it to my mouth I could smell it and knew if I swallowed it my body would know, the race would be over and within 5 minutes I’d be doing a Frank The Tank style beer funnel at the nearest bar.
L: So how does it feel to be experiencing your passions every day?
D: Euphoria, accomplishment, I know that the days following I will be on an ‘up’ and it doesn’t interrupt life, it makes things easier, I feel like I am in my prime and my moods aren’t affected, I’m in the zone.
L: And if you’re not?
D: I feel tired, fat and not all linked together. There’s a lot of drinking in advertising so it’s important to balance it out. I don’t want to be unhealthy – I want a sharp mind. If I don’t do these things I become fidgety, cloudy, annoyed and can’t think. Running particularly is such a great problem solver, and it allows you time to yourself. Being outdoors gives you a sense of balance.
L: What are some ways you’d recommend to others to create a passionate life?
D: Try everything. Don’t be afraid to change your direction, travel, meet new people, make a new circle of friends and look for opportunities. It’s like playing scrabble, if you have a set of terrible letters, do you persevere with them and try to make them work, or swap some tiles and see what new opportunities arise. Swap your tiles every once in a while, throw caution to the wind and follow a new path.
L: Can you clarify what ‘throwing caution to the wind’ is, as opposed to reckless behaviour, I want to understand your thoughts on this? I am writing a month long blog at the moment about fear, things like doing one thing every day that scares you as opposed to risk and recklessness…
D: Well obviously there’s a difference between taking risk and being reckless. As long as you do your research, believe in yourself and want to do something, go for it. And stick with it. The attitude of wanting to better yourself, being genuine, and people will want to support you and help. There will always be an element of risk or not knowing the outcome, but accept this and have the right attitude that is important.
L: Do you feel that you need to make money from your passion?
D: Well, that’s the dream! But not all of us can for several reasons. As long as there is an injection of it somewhere in your life, like on weekends for example, it’ll offset not being in love with your job. If that’s the case…
L: So what challenges have you faced along the road?
D: Everything’s a challenge! In a good way though. Getting up, running, getting to work yadda yadda. It’s a beautiful world and we’re alive. If you’re reading this article you’re alive, that’s huge, I know of billions of people who aren’t.
L: Could you point out what you may have learnt about yourself through your passions?
D: I can say that living my passions is the purest form of joy. Sounds wanky but it’s true. I also know that I like to do things my way. I’ve become less compromising. I enjoy individual sports rather than team ones, I prefer the personal challenge. If I write a concept for advertising it’s because it’s what I think is the best possible solution to a brief, if it gets picked on and pulled apart I find that challenging. But hey, that’s advertising!
In closing up the conversation, Fitzy and I spoke about how we should be teaching kids about passions and more general life lessons in school. His belief is kids should be taught about how to use a credit card effectively, what compound interest is outside of a formula and in the real world, how to motivate yourself, inspiration and what it means to each of us, plus how the world would be a far more contented place. I love that idea!
Here is a link to some of Damian’s work and online portfolio. His writing is exceptional, please do enjoy.