An Adultitis Fighter is someone who rallies against rules that don’t exist and engages in ruthless, senseless acts of silliness that undermine Adultitis and its unadventurous version of adulthood. Once a month, we shine a light upon the most remarkable among us, holding them up as a dazzling example of what we should strive for in this epic battle against a formidable enemy.
Dan Fitzpatrick is a big-hearted, fun-filled Adultitis fighter. With a powerful combination of imagination and refocusing, Dan seizes the moments big and small to deeply enjoy life. He has an educator’s heart full of curiosity and joy for nature’s wonders. With his family, Dan immerses himself in experiments and experiences of learning and growing in the natural world. The “homework” he challenges us with will help us keep Adultitis at bay.
In recognition of their efforts, Adultitis Fighters of the Month receive a special mini-canvas hand-painted by Jason, along with a certificate of honor, a sweet patch, and other Adultitis-Fighting tools. We asked Dan some questions about how he fights the Big A and what advice he has for others…
What are some of your favorite ways to fight Adultitis?
Every day I try to see the world from my two year old’s eyes. Lynx is an amazing teacher, the other day I had a box with foam peanuts and we just dumped it on the floor and had dinner there on top of the box after swimming around in the peanuts. I sent a picture to my wife before I cleaned it up : )
I also pride myself on being a rule breaker. I’m always asking “what are the actual consequences if I try this?” My imagination is always ready to think about new and wonderful things.
Most of all I follow my heart into everything. It’s a feeling inside that leads me and I understand that every day my feelings of where I need to go change with me. I don’t try to make it the same as it used to be, because I’m not ever the same either. But I do ask myself what is my vision today in life. Where do I feel called and most passionate about today?
Who or what has been the greatest influence in your own fight against Adultitis?
Hanging out with my Uncle Pat. He has made some of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever seen. But he doesn’t let it hold him back. He completely forgives people that he’s had a huge fight with, sometimes after a couple of hours. Doesn’t hold a grudge. I’ve watched him flip all sorts of serious criticism into hilarious jokes.
Taking adventures with him too, like wandering through the cornfields at night. Trips to talk to friends that he made because he took his dog to the nursing home to visit people. The random rare people that he somehow bumps into. I remember this one house had stuff piled all the way to the ceiling but the guy who lived there was so interesting to talk to. Hitchhikers that he picked up and let move into his house for a few months. One time he got rabbits and just let them loose in his yard. Another time he had peacocks living in his garage. I have experienced so many memorable things with him!
What is something you loved doing as a child that you still do in some form today?
When you go toward things instead of directly to them, you give yourself the freedom to have an adventure. Some days I will go out and go toward the chicken coop to get the eggs, but then let myself get distracted by a caterpillar on the milkweed. Then off to smell a flower, I see if a bird’s nest has eggs in it yet, or to pull a weed by a new nut tree I planted. I might just lie in the grass and feel the sun. An hour later my wife is calling me and asks where the eggs are, but I hadn’t gone there yet. It’s a great exercise to take the route of a little child and go “toward” with no thought to time. When’s the last time you took a different road to work or on the way home? One time I found a road that went through a creek.
What is your strategy for dealing with people who are obviously infected with Adultitis?
Everyone has a hobby or something that they are excited about. It always helps to find out about it and share some enjoyment. At the boring meeting, it’s fun to make things a game. See how close you can move a paperclip to someone; pretend you’re a secret agent and this will download all the info from their phone. If you have a conspiring friend, make it so you have to do something every time the presenter says “this.” Or if you have to present something, how many times can you add a sasquatch to the group document – see if people can find it during your presentation.
What advice do you have for someone who is feeling overwhelmed by Adultitis?
Self-compassion is a must. If you have had your own spell of Adultitis, understand that it’s ok. You are human; everyone makes mistakes. Also, remember to learn from your own mistakes. Whether it’s holding your own standards so high that you can’t make them, or just letting the small stuff get to you. Be good to yourself.
Having a “sit spot” somewhere has been an important habit of mine. A place with nobody around – outside is best, but I have indoor sit spots too. I try to chill out there for 5-15 min a day and just be there. I talk to the trees, rocks, or plants, or sometimes imagine people around me. Sometimes I just spend time being grateful for things or rest. Just take a moment to be with yourself. Try this sometime: next time you’re alone, just put your hand on your heart and feel it beating. How does that feel?
Finally, you can either zoom in or zoom out. You need to re-frame your window of observation. You could zoom way out and realize that all of us will someday end up forgotten. That the consequences that everyone is so concerned about will never really matter. Or you could zoom way in… while on an airplane, really have a look at the super boring safety video and try to figure out what month of the year each of the shots was taken in. How many people have pets? What year was it? When was the last time that guy got a haircut?
Anything else you’d like to share?
I do have a Facebook page where I post some “how to” on my hobbies: https://www.facebook.com/fitzpatrickfarm/
I also have a blog for that: http://fitzpatrickfarm.blogspot.com/
And I have a website that is sometimes updated at fitzpatrickfarm.com. If you are a nature fanatic, check out my resource page there.
Congrats to Dan Fitzpatrick, May 2020 Adultitis Fighter of the Month. Thank you for making the world more awesome!