Creator Spotlight: Dan Pittman
"Fulfillment to me is the ability to ground myself in whatever moment I find myself in and acknowledge its existence, and its brevity." - Dan Pittman
Dan Pittman is a self-aware, philosophical creator with an incredible ability to demystify the human psyche. His stories offer new, uncommon perspectives on life—ones that both examine and challenge everyday thoughts and what it means to be human. Out of all of the soon-to-be Father's admirable traits, we especially appreciate how easy Dan makes it for his readers to find comfort in who they really are; or, become who they want to be. He's a great creator to look into if you're ever feeling trapped in a box, or that you're not meeting your full potential.
Being a relatively new member of the Vocal community, Dan's pieces grabbed our curation team's attention almost immediately. His piece, "The Man with the Box Tattoo," won second place in the Vocal+ Exclusive "Body Art Challenge"—a challenge that invited creators to highlight a physical change that impacted them in a positive way. If you haven't read Dan's winning piece yet, we highly recommend you do so before indulging in his #VocalSpotlight. Doing so will familiarize you with Dan's voice and writing style, making the words he shares even more impactful.
It's our pleasure to highlight Dan in this #VocalSpotlight.
On Himself, His Education, and Fatherhood:
I am about to become a father in January! That’s the focal point of my life at the moment, as I’ve always dreamt of becoming a father. Aside from that, I received two degrees, one in Psychology and one in History, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
I am a huge brain nerd - I used to train others on body language in conjunction with verbal communication. I also have great expertise in coffee. From home roasting, to flavor extraction and varying brew methods, I love the science behind it.
On His Background in Writing:
As a child I remember diving into poetry - likely around the age of 7 or 8. I have always been incredibly curious about my surroundings and poetry was a way for me to connect emotionally to what I saw in word form. Reading Calvin and Hobbes at a very young age was inspiring to my writing journey as well. I would keep a dictionary by me while reading the books to teach myself terms and then cement those terms into my vocabulary by implementing them in my writing.
Although my writing never stopped, I didn’t share any of it with the world until a few years ago. Surpassing the lies of unworthiness was a hurdle that took me longer to overtake than average, but now that I’m past it I’m unleashing my voice.
On Non-Traditional Sources of Inspiration:
Inspiration is mysterious and fleeting. I don't have a singular source to tap into, rather it comes from moments of minimal brain activity. Most of it feels like it is presented to me, not searched for. Some of my favorite work was from a phrase or concept that meandered through my head at 3 AM like a leaf in a stream.
Inspiring figures aren’t well-known poets or novelists to me, even though I admire and read so many. I feel like a very strange quirk of mine is looking at something incredibly ordinary and challenging myself to make it mystical somehow. When I had an office job I wrote a haiku for every object on my desk magnifying their importance to an existential level. It’s similar to journalism, in a way. Ask a simple question to get a complex and nuanced answer.
On His Path to Fulfillment:
Fulfillment to me is the ability to ground myself in whatever moment I find myself in and acknowledge its existence, and its brevity. To accept that an earth-shattering experience shares the same timeline as an uneventful day and to let the mind sit in it without an attempt to alter external factors - that is fulfillment. It is quite the battle, but worth the effort.
I feel like my path is like a sine wave with a 5 degree tilt upward. The ebbs and flows are there but the trajectory is always toward improvement. I’ve felt tremendous moments of fulfillment when I have dug deep into my mind to discover what has been dictating behaviors that I don’t like. Coming to a few of these realizations was quite literally a game of connect-the-dots, and those realizations have led to more comfortability with whatever comes my way.
On “Achieving Mental Liberation,” and Identifying One's True Opinions, Aspirations, and Morality:
I spend more time thinking about this exact thing than I should. However, I have come to some conclusions to help guide myself.
No one truly knows what they are talking about. Laurence Gonzales in his book Deep Survival said “The word ‘experienced’ often refers to someone who’s gotten away with doing the wrong thing more frequently than you have.” Stay humble, and keep those you look to for guidance on the same level as yourself.
I’m a huge believer in wisdom and intuition. Too often we skip step one here and then bypass our inner wisdom and intuition. Key in to these voices - we often have the mute button pressed on them.
Marcus Aurelius said “External thinks are not the problem. It’s your assessment of them. Which you can erase right now.” Although I do believe that external thoughts can be a problem in large enough quantities, the essence of this point is to remind yourself that you have the power to assess these external thoughts and reject them if they do not sit with your wisdom.
On Bringing Incredible Moments into Day-to-Day Life:
The moment atop Kilimanjaro cannot be overstated. It was a moment that taught me to relish in moments of beauty, and to create moments of beauty out of normal things. After all, I was looking out over the eastern horizon just as the rest of the world was, only I was almost 20,000 feet up. Breaking it down into simplistic terms makes it even more beautiful, and opens the door to more easily find beauty in daily life.
As far as future adventures, the list is never-ending, but taking care of my baby is atop the list! That’s its own category of “adventure” that I’m greatly looking forward to.
On Sustainability and The Gift of Life:
My perspective of myself is that I came from the stars and will return to them. To be alive in and of itself is a remarkable thing and it is the number one thing we all take for granted.
We have been given a gift that is beyond rare, and we should treat our Earth the same - it is precious, rare, and remarkable, therefore we should take care of it.
On the "Road To Fatherhood":
The middle name of our child will be Wesley. Wesley was my grandfather's name, who made such a profound impact on my life and was the subject of “The Man With the Box Tattoo”.
I simply cannot wait for the millions of moments where I get to stare into my child's eyes. To bring a human into the world and foster deep connections is the greatest achievement I can think of.
There are plenty of things that I worry about, but part of my endeavors for fulfillment involve observation of life as clouds floating in the sky. I do not have control over them, but I get to witness them pass by and control my state of mind amongst them.
On His Writing Style and Voice:
My writing style is a product of desperately trying to convey the infinitely complex emotional systems we all possess into coordinated lines on paper. I am notorious for being the devil's advocate in any scenario, and I think that lends well to my attempts to lay out these complexities in word form.
On my social media I have talked about this idea I call the Scrabble Complex, which is this irrational feeling of pressure to somehow reinvent written language. Written word, at times, feels like a closed-minded adult - bound by restrictions, obligations, and responsibilities. My thoughts are this imaginative 6-year-old convinced one day he’ll be able to spread his wings and fly.
What really allows my writing to resonate with my soul is when I accept the bounds of written language to dig deeper, explore, and create within the boundary. Soul-script has its way of finding like souls to bond with in the passage of time.
On Being a Vocal Creator and Connecting with His Audience:
Being on Vocal truly has connected me to an audience I wouldn’t have otherwise reached. I know this because I also have a website and monitor traffic on both mediums closely.
The ease of this platform has been a load off my shoulders and does some of the leg work for me, which is obviously wonderful.
On Staying Sane During These Crazy Times:
My sanity has been established from a rather strange path, and an unlikely one at that. I have for a long time dealt with end-of-life anxiety. It has created a perspective so vast that problems going on in the world right now don’t have any tread on the tires to grip me. It can be hard to stress out over societal issues when my mind is traversing through Saturn's rings.
My outlook remains quite unchanged. I have faith in humanity, in truth, and in the events of the world as they come. This is not to be confused with lack of care or action, as I certainly play my part in my endeavors to promote growth.
On His Favorite Story He's Published on Vocal:
My favorite story I have written on Vocal is It’s Time to Update Your Mental Maps. This article is about how most of us are running on outdated maps of the world, resulting in unnecessary stress and making many feel lost. The motto of this story is “Update your system. Map it out. Move forward.”
Don’t think about it—first thing that comes to mind:
What is one thing you couldn’t live without?
Favorite Musical Artist at the moment?
Cats or dogs?
Favorite travel destination?
Day or Night?
Night - all of my writing happens at crazy hours
Favorite local restaurant?
What’s your go-to late night snack?
What are you currently binge watching?
Jordan Peterson lectures
If you could speak a new language, what would it be and why?
German. I started and wish I hadn’t quit.
Favorite story you read on Vocal by another creator?
Yard Wars: The Rise of Obi-Wan Catnobi - Truly hilarious.
Thank you so much for sharing your interesting perspectives, Dan. On top of the compelling stories you share, you inspire your readers to proactively confront the relationships they have with themselves. That relationship is one that we all have in common, so your insights are beyond useful.
Best of luck in your travels on the road to fatherhood! You're going to be a fantastic father, that's for sure.
You can keep up with Dan here on Vocal and by following him on Instagram. Thanks again, Dan!