13 Jan PURSUE YOUR PASSION CONFERENCE
The Pursue Your Passion conference is on in Byron Bay on Saturday February 18 and is designed for anyone wanting to make 2017 the year they really start following their dreams, living their bliss and all that good stuff. I’m one of three speakers on the day, along with artist Diana Miller and photographer Victoria Aguirre, and proceedings are MCed by TV presenter Shelley Craft. The whole thing is put together by the bright sparks at the Holistic Project who are intent on motivating folks to tap into their deepest inspirations. You can find out more and book tickets here. The last two year’s events have sold out so if it sounds like your bag it’d be great to see you there and help you discover that sweet spot of doing what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs and what someone will pay you for.
It’s something I feel passionate about because it’s a challenging time to be a creative professional of any sort. Yet following that rumbling in your belly, that rush of blood to the head, acting on those impulses that make you nervous or even scared but doing it anyway – those invisible signposts have helped direct me to a life I would have once found unimaginable as a surf-obsessed kid growing up in the landlocked eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Writing about surfing for a living seemed like a fanciful dream. When I started surfing the best surfers in the world could barely make a living from it. So the idea that I, who grew up 100 km from the nearest surfable wave, could one day make a living from writing about surfing seemed outright crazy. Not just make a living but buy a house walking distance to a world-class surf break, raise a family and take my own kids on surf adventures around Australia and the world. I think about that surf obsessed kid back in suburban Melbourne and know that he would be stoked beyond measure to learn what was in store for him.
I was on a maths/science path all through high school, following in the footsteps of my father, an industrial chemist by trade, who managed oil refineries. When people ask how I became a surf writer, I can honestly say a surf story changed my life. A fanciful whim, a rush of blood to the head, a wild stream of consciousness surf rave that poured out of me inexplicably during the pressurised environment of my year 12 English exam, literally changed the course of my life. That surf rave somehow earned me 100% from the Higher School Certificate English examiners. When I trotted down to the old letterbox one day in January to retrieve my results I ripped open the envelope hastily, eager to see if I would get into my chosen uni courses in Forestry or Agricultural Science. I did well in Physics, Chemistry, Maths. Stoked. I’d have my pick of uni courses. Then I saw that English result. One … hundred … per cent. I didn’t even know you could get 100% for English. But it taught me a valuable lesson early on. That rush of blood to the head, acting on that spontaneous impulse, following through on that wild stream of consciousness surf rave was a good thing. That there was the juice I needed to tap into if I wanted to follow my dreams. At that point I didn’t even dare to dream of a living as any sort of writer, let alone one of the surfing variety. But I soon put in a change of preference form to study Journalism instead of Forestry, and got a cadetship on a daily metropolitan newspaper, the old Melbourne Sun News Pictorial. A few years later I landed a job at the magazine I’d grown up poring over, Tracks, my portal to the world of surfing from my landlocked suburban purgatory.
That was 30 years ago and three magazines, ten books, thousands of articles and literally millions of words later, I’m still living out that fanciful dream. It hasn’t been without its stresses and challenges – what worthwhile pursuit is? But I can honestly say I still get up in the morning excited to open that latest word document and continue working on the most recent piece to take my interest. I’ve never thought about when I’ll be able to retire, or cursed the alarm going off on a Monday morning, or endured an agonising commute to a job I hate. I’ve been blessed with more than my share of good fortune but I always think back to that high school English exam as my compass – acting on impulse, listening to that rumbling in the gut, paying heed to the invisible signposts which might feel like fear and anxiety but are really pointing you towards growth and opportunity.
Damn, I just went and wrote my speech in public, but seriously there’s heaps more I’d like to share and explore and workshop on the day so I’ll keep the rest of my powder dry until then. Hope you can get along.