Finding purpose again

Not many people in this world at age 10 know without a shadow of a doubt what they are going to be when they grow up, but I did and I remember the exact moment I realized it. At age 10 while at a Sunday school party with my parents the light bulb came on. There just happen to be a firefighter at this party and just like that his fire department pager went off, without blinking he jumped out of the pool and swiftly left the party to go answer the call. It was at that very moment that I felt the calling to become a Firefighter. As I grew older the desire to join the fire service grew with me. Fast forward to the age of 16, I thought my aspirations of becoming a Firefighter had come to a sudden stop when I was diagnosed with Diabetes. All people would tell me was “you can’t be a firefighter since you are Diabetic”. Well being the determined hard headed Texas boy that I was I never let anyone tell me I couldn’t do something. Hell I would do it if not for any other reason than to prove them wrong. Needless to say less than a year later I found myself as a JR Firefighter. At the age of 18 I graduated from a JR Firefighter to a full fledged Vol. Firefighter. Now that still wasn’t enough for me I wanted more and wanted to do it for a living. So along the way I worked all the jobs I could to make myself the most marketable candidate out there. Jobs that included everything from being an EMT on an ambulance to being a HAZ-MAT Tech and cleaning up things that will make you glow someday. So in January of 1999 I was lucky enough to be enrolled in the Fire Academy. After 4 and a 1/2 months of training I graduated at the top of my class. Now started the next challenge which was finding a job. Which for anyone who knows the fire service, there is stiff completion for those jobs. There were a total of 19 people in my class and to date only 5 of us founds careers in the Fire Department. I was one of the lucky ones that got hired with a department 6 months out of the academy. Shortly after being offered the job by the Chief the job almost got taken away from me when a narrow minded Doctor black balled me due to me being a Diabetic. Once again the fire was ignited. How dare you tell me I can’t do what I was put on this Earth to do was the first thing that crossed my mind. After informing my Chief of the news he told me we need to get two more Doctors opinions. Needless to say the other two docs gave me the green light. As my career started I learned many lessons but the one that still sticks with me is never quit. Whether it is trying to get that career or on the fire scene, accident scene or any other call we ran. There were many calls that we could have easily said “Hell no we’re done” but that was not what we are about. The other lesson was that you find out who you can count on when shit starts going south. To know that I don’t have to look over my shoulder to know they are there is a level of commitment that not many in this world know. Now after 13 years as a career Firefighter I thought my world was about to come crashing down around me. What some people don’t understand about being a Firefighter is, it’s much like an extreme sport. It’s not a matter of if you get hurt it’s when and how bad you get hurt. Well after a grand total of about 19 years total in emergency services and many what I consider to be minor injuries happened. All those minor injuries came back to bite me. Developing knee problems, lumbar problems, cervical problems and nerve damage in my hip I was in so much pain that I became more of a liability than an asset to my team. They would try to send me home from the station cause I was in so much pain and when I wouldn’t listen and go home. They would call my wife who would then come to the station and she would make me go home. It was at this point that I realized that I needed to get myself repaired so I could go back. Well after about a year of trying to fix the mess I had become I was told and realized that my run as a Firefighter had come to an end. Which this started the downward spiral of the next 4 or 5 years. When what I thought was my identity and purpose had been yanked away I entered into a state of depression. Which then manifested into nightmares of several of the calls on the people we couldn’t save. Which then got to the point to where suicide started crossing my mind. Which the thought of suicide scared the hell out of me and I knew that wasn’t an option. Suicide is nothing but a permanent solution to a temporary problem. There were several things that slapped me in the face during this time to wake me up and say “Suck it up buttercup and get up and move forward”. One of the things I found and I’m not trying to blow smoke up your ass is the speech Marcus gives. That helped me realize that I needed to get up and stop being a bitch. Another was listening to Rob O’Neill talk which provide another level of inspiration. After that it started to get easier which then led into me helping others who were going through hard times. Since I have found myself back in the Fire Service although I am not the guy running into the burning buildings anymore but the role I play is just as important. I never really thought of myself as a never quit person, I was just the guy that would not take no for an answer. Learning that the worst enemy you can face is yourself is an eye opening moment. That moment when I realized nobody was holding me back other than myself, I said never again will this happen. In a nutshell that’s my never quit story.

Author: Ryan