When I graduated from college, I went to work for Eastern Airlines. At the time, it was one of the major airlines, like Pan Am and TWA. That was before Expedia, Priceline, and Orbitz; before you could book your own flights on a computer. Truth be told, it was even before personal computers! The only way you could book a trip was to call the airline or call a travel agent.
My job was to convince travel agents to book their clients on Eastern Airlines. The biggest tool in the shed was what was called Fam Trips; short for Familiarization Trips. We were required to organize and escort groups of travel agents to visit destinations Eastern Airlines flew to. What better job could there be for a 22-year-old who had a passion for travel?
It was fun…. for a while. Fly to the Caribbean. Stay at a resort. Fly to Europe. Stay in a 5-star hotel. Fly to Orlando. Spend the weekend at Disney World and Epcot. Then I began to wish I could be home. Sleep in my own bed. Prepare my own food. Being on the road three out of four weeks, playing host to 10-15 clients gets old. When the front desk clerk at Disney’s Contemporary Resort comes to know you by name you know you’ve been to that hotel too often.
My itch to travel was scratched. My vacation time was spent close to home.
As I got older, I yearned for a boat. We already had a park model RV parked in a campground on a nearby lake where we spent our weekends fishing from the shore, renting paddle boats and riding horses at the nearby stable. When my son was about eight, I took the plunge and bought an 18’ runabout, a dock, and a lift. My son would bring friends along for the weekend and I’d pull them in tubes behind the boat and we’d fish in the middle of the lake. Much different from my globe-trotting lifestyle of my younger years but just as enjoyable . . .
. . . Until I got a job with a magazine about – you got it – boats.
At first, like working at Eastern Airlines, it was great. Manufacturers would give us boats to test and write about. Each weekend I’d take a different boat to the lake to use and then write articles about the experience. One weekend a lakeside neighbor’s grandson asked me, “Are you rich?” I laughed, said “no” and asked why. He said, “ ‘cause you have a new boat every weekend.”
My son fell in love with personal watercraft during his teen years. He began racing them and this took us deeper into the boating lifestyle, causing us to travel to races for him to compete. This was great bonding time with my son, for which I will always be grateful. The teen years can be difficult and his racing helped us stay tight.
By the time my son was a senior in high school, I began to dread preparing to go to the lake instead of looking forward to it. It felt like I spent Monday and Tuesday cleaning up from last weekend and Wednesday and Thursday preparing for next weekend.
My itch for boating had been scratched. I put my boat up for sale and asked for a transfer at work.
My son starting taking music lessons at the age of seven and he loved it. When he was 14 he attended a summer camp where they performed as a rock band on the last day of camp. He stepped off the stage and said, “That was the greatest high of my life. I’m just bummed I have to wait another year to do it again.” There had to be a music school where he could do this year round, I thought. Turns out there wasn’t. But School of Rock was just beginning to sell franchises and their business model was a combination of private music lessons and group rehearsals which culminate in the students performing live rock concerts. I figured if my son wanted to do this year round, other kids would want to as well. I bought a franchise.
Through this, my son has had amazing experiences in the music industry; both as a child and now as an adult. We have attended NAMM, the industry’s trade show that is like Fort Knox to get into because of all the big-name musicians who attend. At SXSW we found ourselves in a Billboard magazine celebrity party and over the years we have the pleasure of meeting many notable musicians.
After high school, my son moved to L.A. where he met with a modicum of success. His band was nominated for a Rock Single of the Year at the L.A. Music Awards, they opened for Adler’s Appetite (featuring former Guns and Roses drummer Steven Adler) and Gilby Clarke who played rhythm guitar with GnR on the Use Your Illusion tour. They performed at L.A.’s iconic Whisky A Go-Go, the now-defunct Cat Club and Velvet Jones in Santa Barbara. They toured the west coast and Midwest from Minneapolis’ First Ave/7th Street Entry to Austin’s Thirsty Nickel during SXSW.
It was fun for about eight years. And then it lost its luster. The screaming fans were not enough to compensate for the drudge of the road. They weren’t famous enough to have a team of roadies so they did it all themselves. As my son describes it, “It’s like being married to four people instead of one.”
His itch for the stage has been scratched. He’s so burned out he doesn’t even want to work in the family business. I can’t remember the last time I saw him play the guitar.
I’ve read many career books that advise people to follow their passion and “the money will follow.” While I cannot deny the money followed in each of our personal experiences, it also took away a piece of us. 30 years later I rarely travel, simply because I don’t want to. I yearn for the desire to travel but not for the travel itself. I now enjoy sitting on the beach but the water no longer calls to me.
Just like binging on chocolate, too much of a good thing is too much. My experience would suggest people only pursue a career in their passion if they are willing to risk losing their passion for the paycheck.
Photo credit: Stacey Marmolejo