Going for a paddle is my work. While the IRS may not agree, my logic is if I get paid for it somehow, it is, and when I am out in the kayak, I am experiencing, I am taking in new ideas, and I am observing my surroundings. Since Firehouse Zen is a continuous story of asking questions and my “business” is also to ask questions, it must be. And while I occasionally get paid in the coin of the realm when I generate content, it is more important to me that I am getting paid in finding truth about myself and the people who surround me. It is a constant effort of take and give, give and take.
When I was a young officer, I believed my role was to have the answers. As a chief officer nearing the end of my career, I realize that my role is actually to ask questions. Paradoxically, when I was a young officer, I fought continuously to take in as much as I could. Now I find myself giving it all away. And while I sometimes wonder if I should be out at all the fire and emergency service expos, conferences, trade shows, and etcetera, I find that the experiences I continue to have outside of the usual places seem to be growing my library of knowledge. But that isn't sharing, that's taking, so I have to keep finding ways to get that message out while maximizing my opportunities to learn more.
As you probably already know, lightning follows the most direct path to ground. But to use this analogy in the context of being able to draw and channel that energy, there are factors that must be met. You have to be present when the energy is accumulating; then there has to be a lack of resistance; there has to be a conduction of the energy and permission for it to flow. If the energy slows, if it encounters resistance, it creates heat, it creates damage. It might even stop and find a new way to go to ground, destroying what can’t contain it. As a "student of the game". you have to be present in thought, willing to listen, and willing to understand.
Lightning isn’t a thinking thing, a living being. It is simply energy, generated somehow when there is friction, and seeking a means to go to the earth. Learning isn't a thing we can touch, but it is "energy" in that challenges are identified, "friction" is generated, and we have to find a way to solve the problems. Being open to new experience creates growth.
These parallels exist in our everyday being and provide us a way to relate to what is going on around us. Just like a funny story, when we both laugh, we have a shared connection and we can relate easier, we can begin to speak the truth. And like the world around us, there are ways to illustrate what we are experiencing that are graphic, that are relatively tangible, but these stories actually open up our minds to other questions. And that’s the way it should be.