Returning to EMS after a 15 year hiatus is a surreal experience. Next month, it will be 15 years exactly since I left emergency services to pursue an unknown path, it’s also been about 20 years since I’ve actually worked in the field doing hands on medical care. As I return, I feel as if I’ve stepped out of a time machine. The metaphors of Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle are very apropos for my current situation.
Irving wrote Rip Van Winkle in order to inspire Americans to form an identity that would set them free from English rule and culture. Irving uses his main character, Rip Van Winkle, to symbolize the struggle of early America. Many of the struggles Rip went through can be compared to the same struggles that America was going through at this time before and after the Revolution. Irving uses metaphors in the story Rip Van Winkle to describe the changes that the American society went through during the Revolutionary period.” ~Posted by Digitaldisruption
Knowing, where I am, geographically, doesn’t change the fact that the landscape has changed. Most of the infrastructure, and some of the people look familiar, but everything is different. I have this overwhelming sense of deja vu. When I say overwhelming, I’m not feeding you hyperbole. Two days ago, driving the ambulance through the neighborhood where I grew up, my mind began to reel – childhood, high school, paramedic school, failing/failed marriage, et cetera. Seriously, it was as if my whole life flashed before my eyes, slo-mo.
Fame, fortune, and reputation are very fleeting. This is my takeaway from the last three weeks. No matter how much a person thinks they were all that, memories fade fast, and people forget. Rip Van Winkle was well liked, respected, and even loved by his friends and neighbors, but after a 20 year nap, most of his friends and neighbors had either died, or moved. He not only wasn’t recognized, but he no longer had a reputation.
Fame, fortune, and reputation are very fleeting…
30+ years ago, when I decided I wanted to be a paramedic, I made up my mind to be the best. That’s me. That’s who I am – an overachiever.
At the time I was a great backhoe operator, foreman of my Dad’s construction company, and just beginning the ride of my life. Ten years later, with just a little humility, I realized that being better than everyone else wasn’t as important as being the best I could be, but as I moved from the field into management, I felt as if I’d achieved my goal of being the best.
Now, 20 years later, it’s as if I never existed. None of what I was now matters. Yes, I have some experience, yes, I was a good paramedic, and yes, I made a difference in the evolution of EMS – but that was then, this is now.
Over the course of the last two years, I’ve been severely humbled. I tried very hard to be the best pastor I could be – meeting people’s needs, leading them to a better understanding of God, and not giving into their wants – and they excommunicated me for it. After my divorce in 1981, I made a conscious decision to go to Hell, and I did. I didn’t like it, so I found a way out. It wasn’t easy, but eventually I experienced salvation from that “pit of despair.” I got out.
In 1995, when I left emergency services, I knew it would be hard. In fact, it was another painful wilderness experience, and I’m glad I went through it. But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum, apparently, as a part of my character development, I needed to go back to Hell and re-experience some steps I skipped before. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. Living in Hell is, um, uh… Hell!
As I stumble out of the woods, after a long autumnal nap, I feel as If I’m starting over. I’m relearning how to be a good paramedic, building new relationships, and relearning the landscape. it’s a fascinating, if not exhausting process. Even though I recognize the streets, the buildings are often different. Though I recognize the equipment, it is often used in new ways I’ve never thought of – it’s all good, but confusing. Everything is the same, though very different.
When Rip awakens after a 20-year nap, unaware of how much the world around has changed, he is startled to find that not only did the world around him change but he changed as well.” ~Posted by Digitaldisruption