This isn't what I'm "supposed" to do

Jim canning.png

I’ve worked several jobs over the years.

I’ve worked in a restaurant kitchen, done landscaping, been in childcare, worked with at-risk youth, in retail, and now obviously I work in the beer industry. I can say I’ve enjoyed my time at each job I’ve held but that’s mostly because of the people I was fortunate enough to work with. I’ve had to do “professional development” at pretty much all these jobs and for the most part it was always fairly helpful with the work I was doing but I was never really interested in what I was learning.

I simply did it because that was what I was supposed to do.

Even when it came to school I always loved reading and writing when it was subjects I was able to pick because I would be interested and want to learn about them. That’s probably why I love working at Able Ebenezer so much. I find myself reading articles about brewing, watching TED talks, trying to take free online chemistry classes, and most frequently picking Mike’s and Carl’s brains.

It’s a genuine interest I have in beer and brewing, and it’s slowly turning into an obsession.

I remember hearing all the time growing up that I should “find what I’m passionate about,” and I desperately tried. I had interests, but they would usually fizzle out after a short time. I thought I had to take the classes I was told to take even if they didn’t interest me; and do the things you’re supposed to do in life. If your passion was for something out of the norm a lot of people would tell you, you can’t do it or that it isn’t realistic or that it’s not the “smart” thing to do. People don’t really take you too seriously when you tell them you have a passion for beer. And at that point in my life beer wasn’t a passion. It wasn’t even really a thought for me. My passions were my friends and family, and simply sharing good stories and ideas with them. It wasn’t until I got to college that I really began finding what had meaning to me.

I remember going to certain college classes like statistics and archaeology and by the end of those classes I felt I learned very little. Yet a handful of nights staying up late with a dozen friends and some beer I felt I learned more than all my education combined. We didn’t have a syllabus or textbooks; we simply had our own thoughts and ideas and we were able to listen to each other and challenge each other; and yes, share some beers throughout.

One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain who said, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” That quote resonates with me because I spent my whole educational career trying to pick one of the subjects I had been presented with in school and make that my passion. But that isn’t how it works. Your passion may not be found in a textbook or a school locker. It’s up to each person to decide what excites them and find a way to make that passion the focus of their work. I truly enjoy what I do and it’s because I’m able to do and learn about the things I genuinely have an interest in. The free beer isn’t a bad perk either.

When I was offered the job at Able Ebenezer Brewing Company I had a big decision to make.

At that point in my life I was on a path I thought I was supposed to be on. It was the path that people told me was “a good idea” and “realistic.” So I had to choose whether I wanted the life you’re supposed to have or if I wanted to take a risk at doing something I truly wanted to do. I remember thinking for a day or two and talking with my friends and family about what to do. I kept coming back to a quote I came across back in college on one of those nights spent sharing stories and ideas with friends over a few beers. The quote is by a man named Randy Komisar. He said, “and then there is the most dangerous risk of all; the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you’ll be able to buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”

You obviously know which path I chose.