I had an early morning doctor appointment this morning, so my time on the porch was brief. By the time I got home the porch was getting a bit warm. According to the meteorologist on last night’s news, it looks like the upper nineties and triple digit heat will be here for a while. That leaves a smaller window for enjoying the porch (in comfort, at least).
I read a brief article this morning about how finding one’s passion isn’t always the best advice when it comes to employment. It seems it tends to create a certain degree of tunnel vision that may not allow one to see other possibilities and limit human growth. I’m not sure why, but that’s been bothering me all morning.
My wife and I have this conversation from time to time. One of my sons is an artist. He comes complete with all the personality one might expect when one thinks of an artist. He’s incredibly bright and, has what he calls, an extreme case of Adult ADD. He started drawing on the walls when he was a toddler and hasn’t stopped since. Many of his personal and collaborative murals can be found throughout Fort Worth
Jeremy is one of the ‘up and comers’ in the art scene. He’s curated several shows and exhibited in other cities. His gallery opening at Fort Works Art was a huge success. Last week he made the cover of Fort Worth Weekly, our weekly magazine and the headline said, “Inside Jeremy Joel’s Brain”. I must admit that the idea scared me a bit. After all, I’m his father and anyone with kids knows, eccentricities aren’t always pleasant to deal with. Still, I’m unbelievably proud of him, though I’ll be the first to tell you I’m not very objective.
I’m proud of all our kids and I don’t want any of them to think I’m singling out Jeremy for praise. I never wanted to stifle any of my children’s passion. They are all very different, with unique talents, interests, and careers. I mention Jeremy because he struggled with the question of art versus work and passion versus making a living. I haven’t always liked his decisions along the journey, but it appears he’s on track with the thing he loves to do.
I’m always a little jealous of those that seem to find a way to make their passion their living. It wasn’t that way for me. It took me almost fifty years to become passionate in my work. Today, I ‘get to’ get out of bed, put the coffee on, and spend some time on the porch getting centered in my day. I step into my office where I often share some thoughts with all of you and spend the rest of the day working on writing projects and events that I’m extremely passionate about. I work mostly with non-profit and faith-based organizations. I feel like I make a difference in the world. I wish I’d done it a long time ago.
I’ll be sixty years old in a couple of months. I’ve worked since I was eleven years old. I started as a paper boy and went on to become a gas station attendant (do any of you remember them?), a cook, and a construction worker by the time I was ready to start my ‘career’. I won’t bore you with all the details, except to say that when I got to college (I went on the ten-year plan), all I wanted to become was a college professor or teacher. I tell you this because that was my passion, and that’s not what I followed…
I decided that pleasing my father was more important than doing what I loved. You see, my parents lived through the Great Depression. That experience shaped the way they viewed work. My Dad was fortunate enough to land a job with the railroad when he was seventeen. A railroad job was coveted employment back in the forties. Except for the months he was drafted, he worked his way up through the ranks and continued there until he took early retirement at fifty-seven, with forty years of service. That my friends, was the job he wanted for me.
That wasn’t the case for me. My parents lived back here in Fort Worth and would call me in Colorado every week (we still used landlines and got charged for long distance calls – I know! Crazy, right?). My Dad would ask about school and then ask me if “I was still going to teach or was I going to get a job”. He would often remind me that “those who do, work and those who can’t, teach”. I certainly didn’t agree with him, but I chose to please him rather than continue with teaching. It wasn’t long before I found myself a single father and had felt like I had no choice but to follow my father’s advice. I went on to work for various companies and, while I was good at my work, always regretted not pursuing my passion for teaching.
I guess that’s why I’m a little bit jealous of Jeremy. I wish I had followed my passion. I’ve heard it said that “do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life”. I’ve found that to be true over the last few years. So, when Margaret and I have these conversations I tend to lean on the side of passion. She tends to lean towards the ‘do whatever you have to for your family’. I’d like to think that maybe there’s a balance, but maybe balance is often just ‘the beam I trip on while running between extremes’.
One thing I know for sure is that ‘making a difference’, no matter what I’m doing, has become a core value in my life today. I’m inclined to think that maybe work, no matter what it is, should be a way of ‘making a difference’. Maybe if that’s the passion, we can all find jobs we love. Just a thought…