I was standing on the apron at Station 62 watching the ladder retract when Captain Green asked, “You ever been up in that?”
“No.” I answered.
“You wanna?” he asked.
“Um…YEAH!” was my answer.
A 95-foot change in elevation is a change in perspective! North Marysville looks smaller. There are more trees left scattered in neighborhoods than I would have guessed. Traffic doesn’t look as bad as it does from behind the wheel at State and 100th.
A change in perspective can completely alter an experience. It can even change outcomes. As First Responders, you have been trained to understand this. When one approach to a problem isn’t working, you’ve got to change your point of view; look at it from a different angle and that new perspective can be the difference between life and death.
But a new point of view can change other kinds of outcomes too. Like worldview, self-image, personal satisfaction, and longevity.
“You see moments that were never intended to be viewed by strangers…”
You are beckoned into the worst day of someone else’s life on every shift. You see not only physical trauma and chaos but you see emotional, psychological and spiritual crisis…and you see it up close. You don’t step into homes after they have carefully prepared for your arrival, you see lives in candid snap shots, moments of reality that were never intended to be viewed by strangers…even welcome strangers.
You are collecting a series of these snapshots which slowly start form a narrative, a scrapbook of what “life” is like. What “people” are like. What “society” is like, and by extension, what you are like. It becomes your perspective.
Seeing the world (and yourself) from this perspective is an honor and a burden. A terrible burden. Therefore, surviving a 30 year career with a functional body, intact relationships and a non-f**cked-up brain is no easy task. But a regular change in perspective can greatly increase the odds that you succeed.
“Climb a ladder every now and and see the world from a different angle.”
Part of your strategy for staying healthy and effective should include intentionally “climbing a ladder” on a regular basis and looking at the world from a different angle:
- Take in a live theater, dance or music performance. Make it something you wouldn’t normally do. If you’re a country music fan, go to the ballet. If you’re an art snob, check out an open mic night at the local dive.
- Walk to the store, library or kid’s school instead of driving. Do it in different weather, at different times and in different seasons.
- Play the coin flip adventure game: Get in the car and at the end of the driveway, flip a coin. Heads you go right; Tails you go left. Every time you get to an intersection, flip the coin. Do this 20 times and see where you end up.
- Go to a youth sporting event that doesn’t involve your own kids.
- Go to church. You don’t have to commit, convert or continue…just go. If you already go to church, visit a different one.
- Go to a pet store, visit a zoo.
- Get outside…in nature. Not in an RV or on a machine, but on your feet. If you walk past trees, touch them. A river; put your hands in; if you’re at the beach and want to sit on a rock, choose the biggest one.
- On the silly side: sleep with your feet where your head normally rests. Sleep outside on your deck this summer. Rearrange the furniture in your living room. Wear a hat or shoes that will cause people to ask you about them.
Change your perspective. You need to be reminded that the world is not just BLS calls, transports, HOD’s and equipment checks. Yes…it is those things. But there’s so much more…
City of Marysville
1635 Grove Street, Marysville, Wa. 98270
Beyond the Gear is a informational place where firefighters and their families can read and take steps at living a healthier life. Healthy body starts with a healthy mind. I hope you enjoy.