Hustle The Most Episode 20: Chasing Your Passion To The Palm Trees
We all know that having passion and drive is important. We all know that it takes work and dedication to pursue your dreams. There is always a turning back point that exists that’s different for everyone and it’s usually based on a number of variables. How far will you go to chase your dream? Entrepreneurs often go broke chasing their dream. The dream to be a business owner and be self employed. Lots of barriers become very apparent when taking that entrepreneurial leap becomes a reality. Things like time, money, family, bills, age, and knowledge all the sudden become larger than life. Sure you can go open up a cupcake stand and make some money if you already have things like a house, a car, a home kitchen, and resources. These things are usually being supplemented by the day job. But the question is could you do it if this was your only gig?
Your cupcake stand now has to pay for things like space, supplies, industrial kitchen, staff members, advertising. Could you still do it? A logical person would probably do it part time for a number of years until they cupcake stand could survive on its own then you could make the transition from your day job to your passion project because your passion project can now pay the bills. I have seen this over and over again where someone has so much passion that they can have blinders on so the reality doesn’t quite hit them until it’s too late. The point I am getting at is that it’s our passion that drives us to create and go the extra lengths and just grind it out which is completely amazing but it’s also our passion that alters our perspective and makes us see things through a different lense.
I spent a lot of years chasing my passion. Everything in my life for 15 or so years was all about drumming. I was a drummer. I toured and lived the life of a touring musician along with all the good and bad that came with it. In the last episode I talked at the end about moving away from the Pacific Northwest and having some great opportunities that had come my way that allowed me to continue chasing my passion. Just before I left I was kind of set more or less to move to NJ and I was talking to one of my boys from Detroit that was now playing in the band Sworn Enemy.
They were a hardcore band form Jersey that needed a drummer. I don’t really remember sorting out where I was going to live while I was there but I just knew I was going to go there and drum and I would just figure it out. This is something that happens when you are willing to do whatever at any cost to follow your dream. I was going to move 3000 miles to the other side of the country and I had no idea where I was going to live. That’s just bananas.
This was December and my plan was to drive back to Michigan and spend the holidays with my family then head out to NJ just after Christmas. I didn’t think much about it at the time but December is not a good time of year to drive I-90 across the top of the United States. There is so much snow and tons of mountains and it’s overall pretty dangerous. At the time I was driving this old Porsche that was a 2 seater with a hatch so I shipped all my drums to my Dad’s house in Flint and I packed up the rest of my stuff and headed out. I do remember getting some wire chains for my tires that were packed absolutely last and right on top of all my clothes right as I shut the hatch they were there if needed. I had my cat with me so the front seat was all dedicated to him. I had his carrier in the front seat and his litter box on the floor. He mainly sat on top of the carrier on a blanket and he would have food and water when we stopped for gas. He was pretty amazing! We got like 10 hours into our 40 hour trip and the highway was shut down in both directions with state troopers and cones guiding everyone into this gian truck stop. There were like 100 trucks there and tons of cars. They were selling sets of chains like they were going out of style, it was crazy. We sat at the truck stop for about 14 hours and I would stay in the car with my cat and he would just sit on my chest and sleep as I reclined in my seat. Every few hours I would go in and see if they had any updates. They had a big chalkboard inside that had the latest road closures and weather forecast. After about 14 hours I turned on the local radio station and I heard that they opened up a road around one of the mountains for commuter cars only and I looked at my map and it was only a few miles away. I took off for that road and once I got to it I drove for about 20 miles down the road and it linked me back up with 90 and I kept going. The rest of the trip had some twists and turns and some “I’m going to die” moments but I made it to Michigan safe and sound.
Before I left I told some people that I was going to be home for the holidays and so my old band Spit decided to do a reunion show in downtown Flint. We did the show and it was awesome. It was just like old times. I’ll say this: I have never had more fun playing in a band then I had playing in my first band. Everything was so new and fresh and we were young and figuring it out. We were all learning and growing together, it was awesome! Playing that show just took me right back!
So anyway back to the move. I was home and preparing for New Jersey. I even went with my dad and bought an old blazer to drive out there. I wanted something that could hold my drums and had 4 wheel drive. I was going to be living back in the snow so the porsche wasn’t going to be the right car. I bought the blazer and I put the Porsche in the garage. This was the funny part because if you remember me talking about the garage in prior episodes you know that the garage didn’t have a door on it because it was converted to an apartment type space for my brother. So in order to get the car into the garage we had to take off the entire front of the garage and drive the car in and then seal it back up like a time capsule.
I was all set for NJ and I had about 3 weeks until I headed out when I got a phone call from a friend. My friend John Wylie was a label owner of a label called Eulogy Records based out of south Florida. I met John years ago when our bands played shows together.
His label also re-released one of the first Walls of Jericho EPs that we put out on this European label. Anyway he had this band in Florida that he was playing guitar in called “Until The End”. He asked me what I was up to and I told him and he told me that I shouldn’t go to Jersey and that I should instead come to South Florida and drum in his band. I had to make a choice. Go to Jersey and play in Sworn Enemy and live in the snow and the cold or move to Florida and play in Until The End and hang out at the beach. Anyone that knows me knows that I will pick the beach over pretty much anything. So now I had to sell the Blazer, pull the Porsche out of the time capsule and find some new flip flops!
I was headed to Florida to hang in the sun and obviously catch some waves! I packed up the Porsche with all my necessities and got my drums ready to ship down to Florida. Now that I wasn’t driving I had to quickly ship my drums.
Let’s jump off topic for a minute but I’ll thread it back together in a minute. My mom was a little ummm, different. I’m not going to say that she was crazy but she definitely have a few chemical imbalances happening in her brain. I lived with her for a few years in highschool because I flunked out of school in Flushing and didn’t want to go to Flint schools. Her and my Step Dad divorced about a year into me living there. Then we moved to a townhouse on the other side of Grand Blanc. I didn’t live there long. I think it was like 2 years total. Once I turned old enough to drive I moved back in with my dad and just commuted to school. I remember when I graduated she came to my open house. She didn’t have anything to do with the planning from what I remember she just kind of showed up. She told me that she gave me some money in my card and she knew I was saving up to get a new car so if I needed money to just let her know and she would try to help me out.
A few weeks later I called her and told her that I was like $500 shy of getting this car that I really wanted and that I wanted to take her up on her offer to help me get the car. She said that she would look at her bank account and get back to me. A week or so goes by and I never heard from her. So I went to her house and knocked on the door. Let me step back and say that this was a new house. She had moved and didn’t tell me that she was moving. The only way I found out about her moving was I went to the old house and there was a forwarding mailing address on the mailbox so I kind of tracked her down. So I got to the new apartment complex and I saw her car in the parking lot so I went up and knocked on the door and she never answered. I called her a few times after that and she neer answered my calls. I got frustrated and just stopped calling her. I didn’t hear from her until about 2001 when I was about to move to Seattle. She showed up and we had lunch and said kind of said hello and goodbye and that was about it. While I was there she wrote me a few letters that she sent in the mail just saying hello and small talk stuff. After a few letters I didn’t hear from her any more.
Here is where we thread this needle. When I came home before heading to Florida my sister told me that she saw my mom and followed her to her house. She had moved again and not told anyone where she lived. So my sister gave me her address and I went over to her house and just knocked on the door. She opened the door and was just like “hey how’s it going”? Like no time had passed, like she didn’t move and not tell anyone where she was moving to. I was kind of weird. She was living in a trailer park and when I walked in everything looked the way it did when I was 10. All her furniture was like 80’s style wood and her kitchen table had her makeup mirror on it right next to a pack of winston light 100’s and a diet coke. There were pictures of my brother and I on the walls. It was like stepping back in time. Anyway, this was around Christmas so she had asked me “what do you want for Christmas” like I was 10 years old again. I told her that I didn’t need anything. I just wanted to say hi and spend some time with her. She asked me a few more times while I was there and I said well If you want to get me something I need to ship my drums to Florida that would be helpful. I said it would be about $300 to get them down there. She said no problem and that she would love to do that for me. She told me to come over in the morning that I needed to ship then and she would give me a check. So the day before I was heading out. I cruised over to her house to pick up the check. Her car was in the driveway so I walked up and knocked on the door and no one answered. I looked in the window and her stuff was all on the table along with a burning cigarette in the ashtray but she was nowhere to be found.
I called a few times later that day but I never got a hold of her. The next day I woke up and was trying to figure out how I was going to get my drums down to FL. I was pretty strapped for cash. One of my best child friends from the neighborhood stepped up. I had been hanging out with him while I was home. He’s one of these dudes, we went down very different paths and lead very different lives but we have always been friends and we always will. I talked to him that morning and was telling him what happened with my mom and just kind of venting and he said “Dude I’m on my way over.” He came over and picked up my drums and cases and loaded them in his truck and took them to UPS for me. No questions asked. No you owe me. No words required. He just said, “I got you dude”. He told me to drive safely to Florida and that my drums would be there waiting for me when I got there. It was just an amazing showing of friendship that I will never ever forget.
So let’s talk about what did I really learn from all this
Let’s jump into my favorite part of the podcast which is what I learned from all this looking back some 20 years later.
I learned that sometimes your passion can take you down unexpected roads and it can cause you to make choices that you never thought you would have to make. Here is the trick you have to be open to it and you have to be ok with being uncomfortable for a while. Your passion can sometimes cause you to sleep at truck stops in Wyoming in the middle of winter. I think it was Ralph Waldo Emerson that said “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey”. Well it’s 100% True! The journey, or the process is what seasons you, it’s what gives you perspective, it educates and informs you, it’s how you learn. This is why the ending of things like movies and books are created to be great. It’s the process in our brains where we put it all together and then it hits you like a ton of bricks!
I think this is where I started to learn about managing expectations. Although I am still learning and working on that I think at this point in my life is where I started to understand not the why but the what. I think the why is always harder to get than the what. The what being, what I will now have to do to get from A to B or pick myself up or figure out a new plan. I only expected my mom to help me ship my drums because she said she would as her way of helping. I expected her to follow through. It’s funny looking back I am not really sure why I expected this knowing how hard she burned me in the past. I guess she was consistent.