Growing Up — Two Generations at a Time (aka “Finding Your Passion”)

Category: Weekly Columns

Sometimes, life brings us a lot of lessons at once.  In my family, we’ve gotten our share of them recently and they’ve added dimension to our lives and allowed us to each grow in different ways, without necessarily providing a neat and regular narrative for my column.  That hasn’t stopped me yet and I think you’ll find they all coalesce into something meaningful called finding your passion.

Let’s begin with my older son growing as a rock ‘n’ roller, a talented drummer, guitarist, and vocalist.  His passion carried over to an extraordinary opportunity of a lifetime when he got to jam with his idol, Chris Cornell (Soundgarden and Audioslave) at The Roxy Theatre, on Sunset Blvd., in Hollywood.  The full story and video are here (, but suffice it to say, I became a sort of “stage dad” along the way.

I was extremely proud of his growth though I wasn’t actually present when he took the initiative to reach out to Chris Cornell by calling out and asking to jam with him. Frankly, the tickets were too expensive for me. But, after the fact, I used my recently acquired social media skills and “relationships” (are they really my “friends?”) to help disseminate the story on various web-sites, my column outlets, distributing the YouTube video, and promoting this opportunity for him.

Next came his first performance with a new band and I was right there, video camera in hand and a professional photographer friend along for additional photographic help.  Afterward, when I was alone with my son, I offered my “wisdom” about how he should proceed with his band.

Yes, you know where this is going.  But, how my son handled it is the amazing part, not the inevitability of what happened next.

In the car, after picking him up from school one day, Will said he needed to speak with me.  In the calmest, most assured manner, he nicely asked me to “butt out.”  Acknowledging all my support, financially and otherwise, he nonetheless had the courage to confront me on being just too darn interested and involved in “his business.”

Before he finished, I started to smile.  He looked at me with a slight look of worry that he’d hurt my feelings.  I quickly told him that he was right, that I “owned” doing exactly what he accused me of and that I was proud of him.  What I was smiling about was his maturity, the class and manner in which he confronted me, and a little bit the embarrassment I felt the moment the words came out of his mouth.

We’ve all heard stories of parents on the sidelines at a soccer or little league game, yelling instructions to their kids and/or the coach.  I was rapidly turning into that obnoxious parent.  But, I raised a boy who knew he could stand up to his dad.  I was proud of him.

My other revelation was how much my own passion, in work, had been relegated to the background during the period when I was busily taking care of my aging parents and raising my younger boys, mostly alone.

Just like Will, with his music, I was finding my passion and voice with my writing and, more recently, the added challenge of hosting my own radio show, “The Bruce Sallan Show – A Dad’s Point-of-View” which debuted on KZSB AM1290, The Santa Barbara Newspress Radio Station on May 6, 2010.  For more info on my show, visit this link on my website:  Your calls and e-mails are most welcome.

I sold the station on doing a demo, wrote a passionate pitch for the show, got them to agree, and then worked diligently in preparing to do the demo.  I did my homework, created a show, created interesting segments, secured guests and callers for the demo, and recorded it back in February.

Then, I waited.  And waited.  I’m not a patient guy.  The station manager, veteran radio exec Les Carroll, patiently told me to bide my time.  Finally, in late April “the powers that be” gave the “go” and the demo aired. My first “live” show followed, on May 13.

My excitement and sense of fulfillment mirrored my son, Will, to a “tee.”  I was one middle-aged “dude” getting the kick of his life, taking on a challenge that he’d never imagined. At the same time, my 16-year-old was emerging as his own man, and taking the initiative to direct his life, from doing a Babe Ruth in declaring he would jam with his idol, Chris Cornell, to taking on his “old man” when it was necessary to set some boundaries.

Will and I are of the same mind, and the same DNA, but we have different interests and different approaches to life’s challenges.  I’m proud of him and what he’s on his way to accomplishing. I’m also immodestly proud of my own risk-taking in trying something so completely new and, frankly, scary.  That is what makes life interesting and exciting–taking that leap, not sitting on the sidelines, and maybe, just maybe fulfilling dreams.