Finding Damo

The story of a man, his job, two cats and the meaning of success.

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Finding Damo

this is inside my skull

My wife and I were having a lazy Sunday, lying in bed and chatting with each other, when she took my hand and concentrated.

“I just had a vision of what’s inside your mind,” she said. “I saw a huge volcano and surrounding it was the entire galaxy.”

This is my mindscape. No compartments, no little boxes, just the entire galaxy and the huge fiery volcano at the centre.

One of my goals has been to try and still my mind a little. Let the waters stop churning and the ripples cease. But when I sit still, thousands of ideas run through my brain; a new story idea, a snippet of a play that would look fantastic on stage, 3D models I want to bring to life and marketing ideas for Dwarves in Space. My mind doesn’t slow to that still point that apparently exists in some people.

The volcano in my mind is a deep rage that I try to keep in check. It is also the fire of creation, adding to the galaxy outside.

I wanted to try something.

“You held my right hand,” I said. “That’s not my dominant hand. That’s not the centre of me.” So she took my left hand in mine and I concentrated with all my mind on a forest – tall trees, peaceful and still. At the centre of that forest was a writing desk, where I could write in peace and quiet.

a peaceful forest

“Ok,” she said. “It’s spreading now. The volcano is still there, but now I can see more. There is mist and a giant forest at the base of the volcano.”

Mind. Blown.

The transfer of energies is a concept that I can quite easily get on board with. There is a heat that you feel when someone touches you. Energy transfer is simple science. I am fully willing to stretch that transfer to a type of mental energy, or spiritual energy that transfers as well. You can tell when you touch someone that doesn’t like you or doesn’t want to be touched, if you are in any way tuned in.

I find it hard to say “I don’t believe in that” about anything. You can’t just dismiss something because your world view doesn’t fit the ideas that someone else takes on board. Well, you can, but you shouldn’t. I wouldn’t stay home from work because my horoscope said that I was going to have a bad day, but I didn’t get my motorcycle license because a psychic told me the day before my test that if I got on a motorcycle I would die.

I have that tape somewhere. I’ll upload it when I’ve got a spare hour or two to cut it together.

Shereen told me more about my inner world.

glowy-me“I wandered in the forest and found a glowing figure standing there. Not scary, not mean, just suggesting that I shouldn’t be there and could I please leave. I could tell by its features that it was you, or an aspect of you. And then I was pulled backwards, lifted out of that space.”

“And finally, I found a room. A room made of clay, and inside it were a group of figures – the Mystics from the Dark Crystal. They were trapped inside the room, talking quietly to each other, but not allowed out. And when I saw them, they started to fade into the walls, disappearing into the clay. One of them had piercing blue eyes, which is how I knew that they were aspects of you as well. They were elements that weren’t ready to come out now.”


I know there’s a lot going on inside my head. It’s good in some ways, as it means that I’m never short of a creative outlet. But sometimes I miss the stillness that I know other people can find. I am also deathly afraid of what I might find if I let the Mystics out of the box, the glowing figure out of the forest. Even the thought of being that still makes my heart seize up. I don’t want to be self-reflective. I DO want to be self-reflective.

But how do you reflect on the whole galaxy at once?


Instant offspring

From the last blog:

The other night, I had a dream that my brother was only a child say about ten years old. He had a red parka on with the hood up and I couldnt see his face. He was autistic. He was playing in the playground and fell over. I ran over to help him up and to hug him better and he pushed me away because he didnt like being touched. It broke my heart. I woke up sobbing and it took me a good five minutes before I could wake up enough to realise it was a dream, calm down and go back to sleep. Im not sure what Shereen thought. She was very sympathetic. When we were talking about it the next morning, I said that if we found out she was pregnant any time soon Id be highly nervous following that dream.

And so the dice is thrown again, and another reality is realised in blog form. This is how the blog could have gone.


I was sure that there was more to having a child than this…

I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to tell you that Finding Damo is, in part, about my finding out that I have a son. It is the first chapter of the book. The mental challenge has been: how would I react to having a son? How would he react to me being his dad? And what are you meant to do with a teenager when one is dropped on your doorstep?

The dream made me think through this in a lot more detail. How much luckier am I, who has perfectly happy son, who is a stranger to me, than the woman with the autistic child, who is an alien to her? She loves her son with all of her heart, but can’t get inside his head or in many cases understand his motivation.

But how would Damo react to the first fight? What would the major power struggles be? How has he been disciplined by his mother before Damo was on the scene?

I have to believe that being a teacher would give me a bit of an advantage over someone who has never dealt with students before. The “dealing” with teenagers is what I get paid to do. But apparently there’s more to it than that. All of a sudden you are not just responsible for his grades and schoolyard behaviour, but you have to take responsibility for his every action. Some of it I could blame on his mother – her genes and her rearing. But for the most part, all of a sudden, when a teacher complains about his behaviour in class, it’s my fault, at least in part. And I’ve felt it – even with students in my homeroom. I know what they’re made up of. They are so much better than how people see them. And I want to protect them. God knows, if that’s how I respond to students who aren’t genetically related to me, it’s going to be worse for my own son.

On the bright side, now I’d have someone to join in on the destruction of the evil forces of the Horde. Someone to train in the ways of Red Dwarf fandom. I’d have him do drills of Coupling quotes… That brings up another issue.

A student comes up to me and said “hey. I finished GTA IV last night. That last scene was an absolute killer. Blood everywhere!” And I responded: “Are you kidding me? You’re in Year 7!” I’m incredibly strict with anyone I have responsibility for. And totally lax with anybody else. My aim as a child-rearer is to create someone as self-aware and together as I am. Hey, don’t laugh. I wasn’t allowed to watch M-rated movies until I was 15 and it didn’t hurt me. I did, of course, go to my friends’ places for access to anything more adult – Predator and The Toxic Avenger come to mind, not to mention the videos I won’t mention (incredibly educational). More on this in a sec.

Sidebar for teachers: have you ever (and you know you have, don’t deny it) sat in Parent-teacher interviews and seen an attractive parent and thought “hmmm”? And then seen whose parent it is and put all those thoughts out of your mind. Luckily, I found the mother with the most gorgeous child imaginable. And not during parent/teacher interviews…

I try not to talk about my current family too much on Finding Damo. This blog is about a man that I used to be, that never was, but could have been. The person I am now shouldn’t enter into it. That’s spoilers! But in this situation, my current family is relevant.

My two stipulations for dating, two-and-a-half years ago, were:

  1. Must love cats.
  2. No children.

Now, I am married to my lovely wife, who doesn’t like cats and has a seven-year-old daughter. Which means I now have a seven-year-old step-daughter. Voila! Instant parent. And it’s all been very easy. Too easy, he says, eyeing the forest uneasily. I love my wife. I love my step-daughter. They both love me. Shereen’s favourite story is of the time Young Miss O said to her “I love you so much! I love you as much as Damian!”

O’s other major comment on me is “He’s strict. He’s teaching me manners!”

I’m really not. I’m teaching her my manners. The rules of conduct that I was raised with, and that served me well in polite society. I will admit here (and try and dissuade Shereen from reading it) that it might not be the only way of interacting with society. But it worked for me and, like a basic knowledge of Christianity (and Buddhism, and Islam, and SCIENCE!), at least knowing the rules is an invaluable part of getting on with the people she’ll be dealing with. Most of them, anyway.

How is this relevant? Young Miss O has been like research. How would I respond to this situation? Well, that was enlightening? What would she do if I did this? Oh. Well, there you go! Scribble it all down in the little note book and get back to the book.

As for the book, I’m going to start posting a word count at the start of each blog, from next blog onwards. It’s time I start progressing again and get this one finished. I have a clear understanding of everything I want to happen, I have an incredibly detailed plan. I have a multitude of interesting characters, with most of the names changed to protect the guilty, and all I have to do is get it all down on paper. So here we go.


OK. Pick 3:

  • be fabulously wealthy
  • become a household name
  • marry a supermodel
  • become the boss of the company
  • create your own company
  • have kids
  • act on Broadway
  • Have hundreds of people attend your funeral
  • pass the million followers mark on Twitter
  • own your own house
  • get published
  • fill your passport with stamps
  • get married
  • be known in your field
  • have lived in over a dozen countries
  • reach old age
  • own the sports car
  • have a YouTube clip go viral…

Which of these three things mean Success to you? I’ve always wanted to be successful, but when I decided to make it a focus in Finding Damo, I found that I had to actually think about what that meant.

The book’s not finished yet. I’m not done thinking. But a few things have become blatantly clear:
1. Success is fluid.
2. Success is elusive
3. You should never be able to achieve it.
4. It is very different for everyone I’ve talked to.

At the age of 20, working in a shocking job, but earning real money for the first time, my ambitions were simple: the house, a wife, three kids and a string of successful novels and computer games based around characters Dave and I invented.

At 26, working at Racing Victoria and headed for a semi-successful IT career, I went to a psychic. She told me that somewhere around 30 I would get married to a girl with long blonde hair, tied at the back with a red ribbon. We’d have two kids and I’d write a novel which would be published after a chance meeting with an overseas investor. That all sounded pretty good, although I’ve never had a thing for blondes.* Then I went to Japan, had a year where I could write for four hours a day, and got to meet all sorts of foreign people – none of whom have bought my book.


At 33 I was living in Dromana, living the beach life. I was unmarried, unpublished, still renting, and had no kids that I knew about. My younger siblings both had all of this. My first novel was in editing limbo, I was building up a collection of “this is great, but it doesn’t quite fit” rejection slips on my short stories.

It sounds grim, put like that. None of the things at which I wanted to “succeed” were eventuating. But I was happy. Living by the beach, acting and directing in local theatre and very happy at school. The house and the kids seemed like less of an issue, compared to the fame and the sunny beachy days. I was getting ready to travel again. Lots of plans. My idea of Success at that stage could have twisted off down two very different legs of the trousers of time.

Have you seen Sliding Doors? Imagine that with even more Monty Python references.

Funnily enough, it was then that I met a girl – completely uninterested in a domestic lifestyle – who cemented my concept of success as “wife, kids, house”. She already had a house and wasn’t interested in marriage or kids – and that made me realise that they were things I couldn’t live without.

And now, I’m living the trifecta all in one year. Well, two out of three aint bad**. Now all I need is the fame and fortune.

That’s my success. I’ll get back to you on success for other people.

* Except Scarlett Johanssen, and who wouldn’t?
** Pratchett points out that, actually, it isn’t great. It’s only 66%.

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