The second day after arriving at my new home last November a neighbor asked me to join the volunteer fire department. Lacking training, I wouldn’t need to do any actual fire fighting, the neighbor explained. Just traffic control for roadway accidents and other unfortunate events occurring within this stretch of the Ozarks known as Inspiration Point.
I like to lend a helping hand when asked, but this request seemed way out of my league. I didn’t know anything about using radios or directing traffic. The many county roads shooting off like twisting branches from the equally winding highway within the Fire Department’s (IPFD) territory were a mystery to me. Furthermore I generally tend to safeguard my non-working time, and, at that point, I definitely preferred known and steady rhythms to Unexpected’s chaos.
I can’t explain why, but on that November day, with only a few moments deliberation, I stepped beyond my comfort zone and answered my neighbor with a “yes.”
Have you recently jumped beyond your usual ring-pass-not? What has your experience been?.
In my case, suddenly the unpredictable and I were linked via radio and phone. My car trunk was loaded with a stop/slow sign, reflective vest, light batons, and a military surplus winter jacket from the war in Afghanistan now marked with the IPFD logo.
Initially I worried while I slept. Worried that I wouldn’t hear the tone out. Worried that I wouldn’t correctly decipher the dispatchers fuzzy reading of the location and event. I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I wondered if I should get myself out, but I’ve stayed.
In doing so I’ve developed an easier alliance with the unexpected. I’ve learned to appreciate the self-confidence and agility simultaneously required and forged in chaos. I’ve come to sleep peacefully knowing full well that my phone’s most interrupting ringtone might yank me from a dream and send me rushing into the night.
I’m glad for the small community service I’ve provided via the IPFD. I’m grateful for the many experienced volunteers who have helped me along the way and for the transferable strength I’ve gained. After all, a chosen mission — be it responding to a car accident, cultivating a business, tending a friendship, following one’s creative passion, pursuing a spiritual path or living a meaningful existence — necessitates stepping beyond the usual and becoming comfortable with the challenges and gifts of the Unexpected.