It was 9pm, I’d just got my 15th bug bite and bent over, picked up and put back down my 2,973rd bottle on the day. My back was on fire, my neck uncontrollably itchy, and my mind racing. “What in the world are you doing here?”
“This was a dumb career choice, once again” “Is this really what you want to do for the rest of your life?” “Screw it, I’m done.” “Maybe you can be a head vineyard worker… you spend more time outside… that could work…”
Your mind has a lot of time to wonder when you’re working the bottling line; especially when you don’t speak the same language as your co-workers. I’d been in South America now for two and half months, with two and half more to go. An experience of a lifetime, surely, but all I could think about that day on the bottling line was how much I hated working for somebody else. It’s not that my boss was a jerk. In fact she was about as cool as they come and the same age as myself. I just knew for the one hundredth time in my life that I was never going to feel personal success and happiness doing this.
I’ve spent the last 7 years of my adult life searching for a career that would make me happy. By heeding advice from just about every conscious adult I met, I knew early on to “find a career you love, and pursue it”. “The money will follow, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter, at least you’re happy”.
This process of searching out and putting your finger on the one job that will still make you smile 30 years down the road, was a lot harder than I thought it would be though.
Nonetheless, recently I’d decided to make another attempt, this time, into the world of wine by pursuing a degree from the Society of Wine Educators. I told family and friends this was it, this is what I’ve been looking for. “I get to be outside sometimes, working with my hands, I get to be creative, and let’s be honest I get to drink wine every day!”
However, this was just another shield that I put up to block the constant incoming commentaries, “you know you have to get a real job someday, a career… what do you want to do… you’ve always been good at…” The ‘winemaker career path’ would shut them up for a while, and give me the ability to travel again without those nagging questions waking me up in my sleep. This time I was traveling for business. “We’re going to work in Argentina for 6 months, Jamee teaching English, and me, harvesting grapes.”
Well whatta yah know, two and half months later, uninterested and discouraged again, I was back to square one. This was the only thing occupying my mind during this 13-hour repetitious bottling day. Luckily for me though it was a Friday and we hadn’t started harvest yet, so I was free from work tomorrow. Even luckier for me, Saturday was supposed to be a picture perfect Mendoza day; 85, clear, dry, and sunny. I resolved myself to sitting by the pond outside our vineyard house and seriously thinking things through.
Maybe this job was the final straw. I was sick of lying to myself and others about what I really wanted to do, no matter how crazy they thought I was. But quite possibly my decision was affected by the mind-boggling beauty of the 20,000 foot Andes mountain range towering over me. It seemed to be gazing down at me, pressuring me to make a bold decision. So that Saturday I decided to go for it.
I was going to do what I’ve ACTUALLY always wanted to do: be the best damn outdoor tour guide this side of the Mississippi.
I know Mom and Dad, you always hoped one day your son would make it big and enter the highly lucrative career of part-time work showing people things they can see on their own. But I think that’s how you know it’s real.
There’s a deep routed passion behind this business. I finally don’t feel like I’m pulling at strings; searching for my big break; settling. This business isn’t about the money. It’s about living a certain lifestyle. A life I can wake up to everyday and be excited to attack. We’re lucky enough to live in an age where you can take your happiness into account when choosing your career path. I’m not the type of person who can be stuck behind a computer screen, 9-5, peering over four cubicles to look out the window. I’m in the outdoors, every day, like I’ve dreamt of since I was 5.
Most importantly, this is a business focused on connecting with people. My aim is to share my knowledge, and to be open, always listening and learning more.
Really, all I’ve ever wanted to be, is the best I can possibly be, at something. This is it. This is the culmination of all my skills and passions, wrapped up in a purple-skinned package. For the first time ever, I wake up every morning interested in learning, and growing what I have in front of me. I’m excited to see the happiness this business brings to others down the line.
It’s been a long road to get here, but I’m happier than ever to finally see the grape at the end of the tunnel.0