Message to My son (Arian Rodriguez) about Passion for things

Hey Ari,

One thing that took me a long time to figure out (between 20-~30 yrs old) was how to know when you’re truly passionate about something.

It’s very easy to confuse passion with enjoying things because they’re new and exciting. Here’s a perfect example:

When I was in 5th grade, your uncle Chris and I would practice pitching a baseball next to your grandmas house from time to time. He played baseball in a league at the time and immediately noticed I was very accurate with my throws. More accurate than any other kid he’s seen play. He instantly said he wanted to coach me to get me on a team. He instantly was willing to dedicate hours to practice with me.

And so we started. We practiced for hours and he taught me a handful of pitches that I was naturally comfortable with. One of them being a weird looking knuckle ball. He said it was weird because it looked like the ball would wiggle halfway down to the plate.

We practiced for almost two months every other day. I thought this was what I wanted to be, a professional pitcher for the major leagues. This was my ticket to college and making it out of Cicero (which was a rough neighborhood for over a decade of my childhood). Then came tryouts for the team.

A week before tryouts, and we start practicing on a baseball mound. The experience is 100% different. It was a farther distance to throw and the mound places you higher above the ground forcing you to throw downward. This whole time I’ve been practicing under inaccurate conditions (a flat sidewalk for 3/4 of the distance). My accuracy was immediately gone! Everything I trained for was instantly shattered in my mind.

My friends still wanted me to try out but I felt like that would just add more insult to injury. I decided not to try out.

Which shows that baseball wasn’t really my passion…it was just something fun and exciting to try. I was very quick to just let bygones be bygones.

Fast forward to high school. I was listening to a lot of house music and trance music way before EDM was what people know it as today. I was fascinated by a DJs ability to control a crowd by pure music selection alone. Multitask a bit here and here, and people are jamming out! I felt like this looked awesome and something I can see myself do if I practice enough. Nobody suggested it and nobody told me it was cool…I just was curious.

Your aunt Gabyy bought me a software cd from Best Buy called “Sony Acid Music”. It came with a sample cd of audio sounds and software to modify those music files. I was instantly hooked. The software let you cut, slice, reverse sounds and add effects to anything you want.

I spent countless hours staying up late and getting lack of sleep just to keep learning more about how to use the software. I made goals for myself like making music tracks that were 5 minutes long then 15 minute long “mini mixes”. I was having a blast challenging muself. Nobody really knew this about me until a couple of years later.

I decided I wanted to buy professional gear to DJ my own CDs. I worked a whole summer getting paid 5.15 an hour to save up $900 to buy a Cdj mixing kit from Gemini. I spent two whole Summer’s practicing in your grandparents garage for full afternoons and evenings. The garage was Hot and I would forget to eat food. Your grandma would have to come and bring me ice cold water and sandwiches because she was afraid I was going to pass out.

I did not care and wanted to perfect my craft. I wanted to consistently blend flawless mix sets. I would start a set from the beginning if I made a mistake blending 2 songs no matter how far into the set I got. My goal was to blend music for 80 minutes straight without a mistake. I was relentless and eventually got to a point where beat matching was like riding a bike. I could blend any two songs and not skip a beat. It was awesome! When people found out I could DJ, once they heard me spin they couldn’t believe bow professional my blends were. Some people couldn’t even tell one song ended and the next began. As flawless as possible! All manual and no digital tools to help. I only used my headphones and the cross fader & pitch sliders to blend my tracks.

I would eventually have friends ask me to DJ house parties for Free and eventually was the DJ to the largest house party that Cicero ever had at the time at your uncle Waldo’s house.

That Ari, that’s passion. The Natural, unguided and pure happiness type of passion. The kind of passion where even when it gets hard or frustrating, you tell yourself “ok let’s try it again and do it better this time” type of passion. You lose track of time! I am glad I learned this early enough in my life because had I not learned what it felt like to be passionate about something…I wouldn’t be where I’m at today.

I work a hard, challenging and sometimes demanding type of job at work but I’ll tell you this…I wake up every morning saying “ok let’s try this again and do it better this time”

The road to finding things you’re passionate about is not easy nor will it be obvious. But when it happens, you look back and say “man, I really do like this a lot and not just because it’s cool or someone told me it is something I should like. I like it because nothing else told me so and I’m still enjoying it! Awesome!”

Once you find it, enjoy it son. It’s a wonderful feeling.