Yesterday, my father and I spent many hours sitting on the balcony of his 17th story river-front condo, watching the hundreds of boats go by on the Willamette River. Having grown up in Florida in a boating family, boats have always been another passion of mine and if I play my cards right, I hope to retire on a boat one day.
We watched big boats, little boats, “head boats” (full of tourists); everything from canoes and kayaks and jet skis to big yachts, barges and dine-aboard cruisers. Without question, every boat that went by was full of people that were having a damn good time (except maybe on the barges).
As I watched through the binoculars, I saw a curious little red boat that looked like an old-fashioned diner on a mini-barge. As it puttered through the waters and came into sight, I saw that it had banners and flags on the top that said, “Weenies on the Water,” and a menu posted on the side. It was a floating hot dog stand! It anchored right in front of my dad’s condo and we watched as boat after boat pulled up, bought a hot dog or Popsicle and then sped away. I cannot imagine that he could’ve possibly made enough money to pay for his fuel that day, let alone the cost of the customized craft, but I do know he was having a good time on the water and had a great excuse for hanging out on a boat on the river all day.
I thought about how great that would be and how innovative this guy was, even if he wasn’t getting rich. I would trade jobs with him in a heart beat—at least for a few weeks. Like any job, I am sure it has its pros and cons, but at the end of the day, if you have spent it involved in something you love to do and would gladly do for free (or maybe even pay for it), the day has been a success.
I decided very early on in my adult life, that I needed to make my job work for me and that I intended to play for work as much as possible. And for the most part I don’t regret it. Had I chosen a more traditional and lucrative career, I might’ve been able to retire to my fantasy boat a little younger, but I would’ve given up years of fun and fulfilling work in the process.
There’s always a danger in turning your passion into your profession, as Rich and I both know. You risk losing your passion. I have survived several burn-outs in my career and I have found that any passion must be nourished—whether it is passion for a sport or endeavor or for another person.
Each burn-out that I went through was resolved by some serious introspection and specific actions on my part to get back in touch with my passion. Now, with the wisdom that comes with nearly a half-century of life, I think I’ve got a path lined out for myself that is one I can live with. Although I’d love to spend a few weeks on the water flipping weenies, I’d probably be missing the horses pretty soon and come back to my “regular” job with a greater appreciation. And I probably wouldn’t make any more money from weenies on the water than from horses in the dirt. And no doubt, I wouldn’t be thinking about buying a boat in retirement but probably thinking about buying a horse farm instead (wonder how many weenies you’d have to sell to buy a horse property?).
What about you? What choices (or lack thereof) led you to your career? Do you have any regrets? Which is better– working fewer years in a career that is not necessarily fun or working more years for less money in a career you love? My answer totally depends on when you ask me.
But for the next few days, I intend to enjoy our abbreviated vacation to the fullest and worry about work later.
Enjoy the ride!