Like it is for many others, kites are an 'escape' for me in some shape or form. In the beginning, back when I was a budding little kite flier, kite flying was absolutely synonymous with escapism. Escaping the pressure of work, the pressure of relationships (and my naivety on how to handle certain aspects of them), escaping emotions, escaping my early 20's stereotypical existential crisis. As I became more involved in the greater kite community, and exposed to what kiting had to offer.... I began to see it not as a thing to escape with, but an activity to look forward to. That may seem like a perfectly normal statement, and perhaps it is and I am just weird. (An adjective I don't mind :) )
Why the change is worth noting, is that I don't do vacations like normal people do vacations. Not really sure what to credit the line of thinking with, but for as long as I can remember, the idea of going 'somewhere' to get away and just 'sit on the beach' and do 'nothing'.... sounded horrific. A great example is the idea of a cruise. Now you talk to most Americans and they will probably rank 'going on a cruise' as one of their ideal vacations. I have been on two, as a part of a family event, and aside from the handful of side adventures, I was bored senseless. I simply could not get in the mindset of sitting around the pool and soaking up the sun. Shudder.
The perfect vacation for me? Is the one that I am working hard the whole time, it has a sense of adventure, exhaustion, craziness, and some random coincidences mixed in. I don't want to go on vacation to catch up on my down time, I want to go on vacation that I have it in me to do more, be more, work harder. There are a ton of other benefits that I love of travel, and work based travel, and undoubtedly will write about them at some point on this blog, so lets just skip forward a little.
How do kites fit into all of this? Well other than all of my vacation time, and most weekends during the year are occupied with kite related minutiae; kites are what I dream about when I am doing my regular job. The plain and simple fact is, kites do not pay the bills, nor is it cheap when it becomes an obsession/passion (like in my case :) ) I want kites to be my life 24/7/365, knowing full well that being an entrepreneur means I work harder than when working for a corporate job. There is no safety net.... so when you fail to produce... you fail to put food on the table. Right now I can hear all of the advice, all of the voices that are both saying DO IT, and others that are saying DONT DO IT..... all rather loudly. Draw your own conclusions about launching a business based around your passion; it is still a dream of mine. :)
The downside is that I have to spend a lot of time focused on my corporate job. I have one of those standard corporate jobs, with desks and filing cabinets filled with an every increasing workload, and coworkers straight out of The Office.
My desks and cabinets are crammed into a grey cubicle far from a window, and all of this is housed in one of those temporary office trailers that has been home to our department for 10 years.
Don't get me wrong, I do love my coworkers, they are unique, and the more time I spend with them, the more I learn about them and am amazed. Take for example Ben, Ben looks like your standard office worker, button up shirt, slacks that hang a little loose under his pot belly, a 'crown' of hair, and coke rimmed glasses. For the first few months working there, I could have sworn he was the inspiration for Milton from The Office Space. His possessiveness over his stapler... didn't help dispel the idea. :)
As I have come to know Ben over the past 3 years, I have found out that he is a passionate and avid drummer, and once played in a Mexican punk band. He loves Nova's and Pintos, and other random would be beater cars. Along with his brother he raced dirtbikes, and the sound of an old steam engine is like cocaine, he can't get enough. His wife is something like 15-20 years his senior, and can be credited with 'taming his rebel ways'.
Well as you can expect, there are mountains of paperwork, and more paperwork to make sure the first paperwork was done, then the spreadsheets to make sure the paperwork of the paperwork is tracked, and databases to compile the spreadsheets, and on and on and on. It sounds horribly monotonous, and perhaps it is, but thankfully I have a knack for data processing/entry/tracking/corralling; and that is blended with a peculiar ability to work well with engineers. Reading back what I wrote it sounds like I hate my job, let me assure you I don't. It doesn't check every box, not sure that any corporate job would for me, but I do not groan at the ten hour days, or the ever increasing workload. It gives me a sense of purpose.
Funnily enough, the busier it gets at work, the more my mind comes up with new ideas for kites, new projects, and new ways of taking on more work. When I am sitting there trudging away at a few thousand lines of data entry, it isn't the dream of sitting on the beach and lazily flying a kite that I am thinking about and looking forward to. It is daydreams about 'how can I get more people flying kites', or 'what about hosting a paint and sip kite making class', or 'in two weeks I am headed to this kite event and I need to design something new for it'.
Massive shut down at work causing me to become overworked, backed up, and tip over the edge on monthly deadlines..... guess it is time to think about starting a national kite campaign, or what will be my next e-book. Computer systems crash and I have to redo not only my work, but others work, ..... guess I will think about how to design a new 3d printed modular piece with fabric. Boss asks if you can cover for another department when you are already barely keeping ahead of deadlines.... guess this is a great time to sketch up a new wind garden idea and create a competition around it! Lord, what is wrong with me.
This all feels so natural to me, and yet, when I chat with my coworkers about their plans for their vacation, the look of shock on their face is only tempered by the fact that it is the same look I give them when I hear theirs. :)
Ben: "We are going to California to spend time with the grandbabies for the week. Just going to play with them, eat good food, enjoy some down time."
Me: "Oh, that is cool, bet you are looking forward to it."
Ben: "Yeah, what are you doing?"
Me: "Taking an overnight flight to Dallas after work, then driving 3 hours to Shreveport, Louisiana, where I will spend a week working from 5am to midnight running around capturing video, building kites at several libraries, hosting banquets, and hopefully getting a chance to fly."
Ben: "So, you are probably going to come back to work more exhausted than when you left?"
Me: "Yeah, and I wouldn't have it any other way."
So... that is where I am, in a coffee shop in Shreveport, Louisiana, running on 3 hours of interrupted sleep on the plane, and getting ready for the first of several free workshops I am hosting for the local community. Nap time after... .maybe. :) Maybe, I will finish the last edit on my e-book and publish it Monday Morning.