I received an article recently that mentioned the number one thing that people regretted on their deathbed. That number one thing was… “Not following their passion and doing what they wanted to do in life to make a living”.
I found myself thinking about my own life and the numerous professions I have been involved in. I actually felt good that I had followed my own passions and belief in myself for work, though it sure had taken some twists and turns.
I’ve met a lot of people in my life who hate their jobs and have built a life around that job and in the process never followed up on the gifts they have been given in areas where their true belief in their abilities lies. When you put forth your best efforts in the area you are really excited about you can move mountains. Don’t ever sell yourself short! You will never find satisfaction working in a job that gives you a paycheque from week-to-week but doesn’t offer you that innermost joy of accomplishment that you can only get from “Becoming Who You Were Meant To Be“, that’s where your passion lies.
I thought for the purposes of this article I would share with you my own life of becoming who I was meant to be.
At 16 I took up the drums and I knew instantly that being a drummer would be with me for life. At eighteen I was selling teapots to little old ladies at a Spencer’s Department Store. Not much passion there! Then I got a job as a junior reporter for The Colonist newspaper. I wasn’t too bad as a writer but my heart was into drumming and it held my devotion. I found myself always pushing for Friday and Saturday nights off to do gigs. One day they kindly offered me an envelope with a pink sheet of paper inside. A colourful end to the job.
Up next was a position as a teletype operator for Richardson Securities. Good job, weekends off for gigs, and a chance to learn how to handle money and learn how to invest. But I was still haunted by something… Did I mention that I like playing drums?
The British music scene was getting hot in England and I was anxious to see how my band, “Bobby Faulds and The Strangers“, would stack up against the Brits. I decided to take six weeks and head over there to check out the music scene. Upon returning to Victoria I convinced six great musicians in “The Strangers”, that included David Foster on keyboards, that we could blow everyone away with our brand of big band rock if went to England. It was a huge move and a big commitment for all of us, but we had that belief and we did it.
We played all over England and parts of Europe and even toured as the band behind Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and The Drifters on their British tours. We also got the chance to play gigs in France and Germany. I was rock ‘n’ rolling in my passion and it felt damn good. After thirteen months I headed back to Victoria and wound up playing drums in the house band at The Strathcona Hotel six nights a week for the next four years.
The world was unfolding as it should. My heart was into drumming. I had money, an MGB sports car, a corduroy jacket with leather patches on the sleeves, I was smoking a pipe (important for the image), and I was where all the action was six night a week. On the side, I was doing some drum teaching at a local music store… Ain’t life grand?
One day a guy at the music store offered me an 8mm camera, a projector, and screen. Before you know it I am creating dumb little movies for the Christmas party at The Olde Forge Nightclub. It was fun, it was creative, and I was excited about doing it.
As fate would have it I started to hang with guys who were into black & white still photography. I kinda liked this new interest, got a 35 mm camera and started shooting a lot along with these new friends. Only problem was when they started throwing around terms like “depth of field” and “hyper-focal distance” I was lost and it was time to learn more, so I took a correspondence course from The School of Modern Photography in New Jersey. Now I was able to keep up with these guys.
At that time there was a small group of freelance photographers that did all the photos for The Colonist newspaper and with my new found training and skill I was soon to join this elite group. Over the next 7 years I was infused with photography and between the two newspapers that I worked for (also The Victorian), I figure the number of published pictures with my name on them must have been close to six thousand.
It was a natural thing for my still photography work to morph into motion pictures which I always dreamed about. So off to Hollywood I go to learn the movie business. On returning to Victoria I wound up at CHEK-TV as a news cameraman for the next 9 years. I was doing my thing in the field where I was meant to be. It was a good job working with some great people and allowed me to support my growing family.
The years went by and I kept hearing this voice in my head saying, “Is this it for the rest of my life? Or is there something more?” The “should have,” “could have,” “would have,” voices in my head wouldn’t let go, so I started teaching a film-making course at Camosun College.
I could see where my passion was now taking me and I left CHEK-TV. Then along with a partner opened up Victoria’s first film school called Victoria Motion Picture School. I was still playing drums but this film thing was holding my devotion. I created a small production company where we produced a lot of short dramas and educational films for government and private industry. I just loved lighting and being behind the camera. My films received awards from film festivals in New York, Houston, and Chicago. It was as passionate for me as being on the stage playing drums.
Then a friend said, “You’re a really good educator and your passion for it comes through. You should write a book on it.” Wow, I thought, that is a really cool idea and my enthusiasm for writing took flight. That’s when the floodgates for this writing thing opened up and the words just literally flowed out of me. I felt the same emotion as the first time I started playing drums and so I wrote a book called “The Video Bible,” (all about producing corporate videos), it was well received and even got praised from The Canadian Society of Cinematographers and The US Book Review.
Next, I began to travel around British Columbia and parts of Alberta trying to raise interest and interview students for the film school as well as selling a few books along the way. In the process of doing this, I found myself doing power-point presentations and giving talks to schools and business groups on all aspects of the film industry from “How to Break into the Film Biz” to “How to Attract the Film Industry to Your Town.” I now had my passion going in three directions: drumming, film production, and motivational talks. I had enthusiasm for each, whether it was… a soundstage, a music stage, or a motivational talk stage… Guess I just like being on the stage and for me, it was a passionate thing and I loved every minute.
It was in 2008 when the economy was changing and a lot of companies were feeling the pinch and some actually going bankrupt, that my partner and I knew our film school couldn’t survive any longer and it was time to move on. It wasn’t a very happy ending from all the hard work we had put in but I don’t regret one minute of the experience. During this time I had been playing drums for twelve years in a well respected local classic rock band called “Rukus“. I began to think about the joy teaching drums again like I did in my early career.
I took a year to think things over and then walked into a local music store and asked if they needed a drum instructor. My timing was right on. They needed one. I’ve been following my heart teaching drums for over 40 years. I’m currently teaching at Tempo-Trend Music on Burnside Road in Victoria, BC and providing drum seminars for a number of local middle schools.
Passion for what you “really, really want,” and becoming who you were meant to be is not something that ends in your 30s, 40s, or even 70s. It just continues as long as you hang onto that feeling in your bones that says, “You’re Doing What You Were Put Here To Do.” Let me repeat that… “You’re Doing What You Were Put Here To Do.”
Now this has been my life to this point. I truly could not have followed my dreams without the support of family and friends who believed in me along the way. They encouraged me to follow my heart and to them, I’m eternally grateful and glad I took their advice. I know that when I’m finally “ready to croak,” as my Mother would say, I won’t have to hear those words in my mind… “I would have… I should have… I could have…” Nope! “I did…” I became who I was meant to be!
If you’re looking for a speaker to help motivate young people on choosing a career, or others who are considering changing careers, please give me a call.
Barry Casson c.s.c.
Email [email protected]