Walking out of the Fire Chief’s office, leaving a job I had loved for so long, a sickening feeling rested heavily in my stomach. This job had defined me for eight years. I gave myself to this job as I had with nothing else in my life, and it had taken from me even more than I was willing to give.
Left in a state where sitting for more than 20 minutes meant shooting pain that would likely last the rest of the day, it was zapping my energy and will. I gave up positions on grueling technical rescue teams, moved to the slowest station in the county, and taken nearly every day of leave allowed, trying to recover. However, when I was on the job, I didn’t retreat from the challenges, and firefighting never failed to lob one after the other, day after day.
I had first injured my back a week before Amber (my wife) and I had our first date. On a fairly routine call, I felt a pop in my back. The next day it seemed strained, but mostly ok. Over the next year, however, that small pain became more and more debilitating, until back surgery seemed to be the only option.
After surgery I took a desk job for three months, worked at training for another month, and finally made my way back to the field. Unable to accomplish some of the tasks from my previous role, I was forced to give up my role on the Technical Rescue Squad. I rode the back of the Engine again for a year, before it was again decided that a shift to the slowest station would give me the best chance to fully recover.
That slow station picked up considerably while I was there, and the idea of rest and recovery seemed to be diminishing. One early morning call I heard another pop; this time in my hip. Within two months I would leave the fire service for good, and try desperately to find something else to occupy my time and make money.
I don’t believe anyone ever considered art a “safety net.” However, when I was left in the state I was in for so long, it seemed that no nine to five would allow the time for me to deal with the pain. Art did.
I began to find a love for art that I had placed aside while I pursued other dreams. The talent was there, the art, was lacking. Art is much more than talent and the ability to render lifelike forms. So, it has taken years to readjust, and find a place where I am free to explore and create a cohesive body of work.
I hope you find some pieces you like. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. I always love discussing art.