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Passion versus Reality



Most of us early on in life believe we are going to grow up and go into a career field that is going to bring us massive amounts of satisfaction. Simply stated, we want to do what our passions dictate and this is perfectly normal. Many professional athletes, singers, and entertainers enjoy this for a spell, but unless they keep employed, sooner or later they are going to have to find a real job. That job will pay the bills, but most likely will just be a job.

I guess my first understanding that I wasn’t going to have a passionate job was when I didn’t get an opening into photography school in the Air Force. After I got out of Basic Training I just knew I was going to be a photographer.  In my immature mind it was a done deal and I survived the vigorous training and adjustment into military life knowing it was simply so.

When the day came when the job offerings were displayed, I was like so many other young men in my flight, totally clueless what the militarized names of the job openings meant. The military uses the word “nomenclature” to describe their words. I had never heard the word nomenclature, let alone understood that the job I ended up choosing (Material facilities specialist) was nothing more than a warehouseman.

Talk about unglamorous! I wasn’t the only one in my flight either. Almost none of the 60 of them knew what they had picked either. In our 18 year old un-military nomenclature understanding minds, we just chose something. This is absolutely bizarre now that I reflect on it. You go in believing in all your heart that you are going to get exactly what you want and on that great day you find out you are going to be a box stacker. There is a correlation here to most all of us at that same age. I can imagine how many of have similar experiences.

After four years of stacking boxes and 2 tours in Southeast Asia, I left the Air Force and moved to Baytown to join my family. It was as if I exited Basic Training all over again in the fact that I was at the point where I would choose a career path. Looking back to every time in my life I came there, I realize I could have made a better choice except when it came to choosing my mate. As my dad was wont to say, “You did good, Bubba.”

What I should have done is took a side job and used the G.I. Bill to get a 4 year degree. Pretty much all of my family except my Mom were working at Mobay for Brown  & Root (wasn’t everyone?). What I did was join them as a pipefitter’s helper making an astound lavish $4.25 per hour. It doesn’t sound like much but when I left the Air Force in late November, 1974 I had made a total of just over $2000 for the year and I had 3 stripes.

My plan became to go to college, but did I follow through? A little bit. That’s all. Later on I took more classes, but never got a degree except in martial arts. Sure, I’ve had many successes along the way with accomplishments, but for 37 years I worked shift work in a chemical plant and although it paid the bills, it never was a passion for me.

I suspect you can relate to where this is all going in your own life. Rarely does passion and reality align in a career.  If it did, then you are most blessed. My Dad surprised me a few years back. He had an incredible understanding of math and was a tool and die maker by trade and very good at what he did. He told me all the years he worked in those shops, he hated every second of it. I guess that’s why he always dreamed of finding sunken treasure, or a gold nugget in a mountain stream.

I didn’t hate every second I was a warehouseman, pipefitter’s helper, or process operator, but I sure as the Dickens didn’t want to be there. You see folks; passion is for off the job. You find it with your family, your church, and your hobbies. You work your job and strive for an excellent work ethic, but you get your kicks on Route 66.


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