Got The Love?

Its was 230 am…Again.  I couldn’t sleep, and my heart was racing.  I remember and staring out the window of my bedroom with the strangest mix of emotions.   My mind wouldn’t shut down.  I alternated between unbridled motivation and excitement to sheer panic.  This does not bode well for rest.

I’d figured out exactly what I wanted to do with my life.  Only a handful of people ever truly have the realization that there is a single thing that they MUST do with there lives before any other consideration becomes valid.  I had to become a firefighter.  I really had no choice as I would spend the rest of my life with the dreaded “what if” if I didn’t go for it.

As soon as I knew this, the fear set in.  I knew one person total in the fire service who I hadn’t talked to since highschool.  I knew nothing about what it would take, but I’d heard the process was a nightmare and that most people just gave up.  I was starting late; a little over three years out of college with absolutely no direct background in emergency response. The sum total of my potential ability to even handle emergencies could only be measured in a few scary yet hilarious situations involving rich tourists and their mistaking of financial success with sailing prowess and a rather large Samoan football player (Center for the team actually…HUGE dude…)  for SDSU whose girth actually prevented him from reaching behind his back to drown me as I rescued him from a pool.  I was pretty certain that there wasn’t a single person, outside  my mom, who would even consider what I would be attempting to do in any way a good idea.  Even mom was no guarantee.  It was highly unlikely, based on my life experiences to date, that this dream could even come true.  People would be more prepared, more experienced, and I had only desire combined with a huge dose of “Go for it!”.

I couldn’t help but dream of the possibility of it all, though.  I’d be useful.  I’d be doing things to help people in a very real and tangible way…on purpose.  I’d get the opportunity to do extraordinary things on a regular basis.  I imagined the badge being pinned on my uniform.  I couldn’t imagine being more satisfied with an accomplishment.  I imagined  myself riding to emergencies with people looking on as my unit flew by wondering where we we’re going and who or what we might rescue from danger.  I imagined  people relying on my presence of mind to handle the craziest situations in life.  All of it was interesting, challenging, and exciting…It was love.

And anyone who’s ever experienced “the love” knows that it cannot be ignored for long.  It cannot be denied.  It usually requires more of you physically, mentally, and emotionally than it guarantees in return.  It ensnares you, though, because you know that anything else that you settle for will only pale in comparison…

Welcome to having no other choice in life but to become a firefighter…

Welcome to the love.

It will require everything from you for at least some period of time.

It will take most everything from you for at least some period of time.

And It Will All Be Worth It…

I hope you feel the way I do about it.


PS.  If Facebook had an icon for what it feels like to be a firefighter it wouldn’t be “Like”  it’d be:

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One Response

  1. Paul Card Says:
    November 7th, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    @Keith, Mike M, and Cristin- Thanks guys! I wanted my story to motivate and be a sort of sign post for those of you who feel the same way I do about the profession. Keep up the hard work getting there…Its worth it!

    @Noel- Fortunately or unfortunately, we just did! The Chief decided to do a lateral hire to help out some of the firefighters who were being laid off in other cities in Nevada. We picked up a group of good guys, but i am sorry to have to break it to you! Fight on girl…You’ll get there!