Red bellied woodpecker
As winter wains this late February I have become struck with the idea of retirement. Firefighters in Detroit are forced out of the fire service at 60 anyway and I am only a meager year away from that. My cities financial troubles are such that after 312 years the state of Michigan is contemplating a bloodless coup d'etat. New laws have been implemented making it possible for our Governor to discharge the elected representatives of our city, the Mayor and City Council, and put into place an Emergency Financial Manager (read: dictator). All contracts with municipal workers would be suspended and the EFM could put into place any measures he deems necessary to reorganise the apocryphal situation that is Detroit. This scenario has already played out in other cities. Pontiac, Michigan's whole police department was disbanded recently never to return.
The handwriting is on the wall. The once powerful Motor City is intentionally being depopulated and burned to the ground. What is the point of fighting it anymore?
Is this the logical extension of a consumer society: Like a giant game of Monopoly gone bad, we simply flip the game board over and begin again?
Soon I will be out with the rest of the turkeys hunting and pecking but it won't be for insects and seeds. I will be searching for relevance. After years of firefighting it was rather easy to define the essential function I served on this planet other than our common Darwinian mission to multiply: I helped to put out a lot of fires. In fire science we learn that fire is a rapid form of oxidation, it's like rust gone mad. The Great Lakes are part of a region affectionately known as the rust belt because of our history of building flashy if some what easily corroded vehicles. No problem, we'd crush up the hulks, melt them down, and sell it back to you every two years.
I must undertake a similar transformation. An unenviable problem to have, making something new out of this old chassis!
It is a great privilege to have served with and stood next to so many brave souls in good times and in bad. Now I will be on the outside looking in. Isn't that like bird photography, standing on the edge of the flock peering in, a curious outsider?
Life is not lived in a vacuum, new activities will fill in the time that was devoted to a career. However; it is foolhardy to expect anything short of a knife fight could replace the adrenalin rush of responding to the alarm.
Bird photography has sat at the other end of the emotional teeter totter across from big city firefighting bringing me into a kind of balance. I wonder how it will be chasing the flock full time? Stay tuned!
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