I’ll bet you didn’t know that I used to be a fire fighter! The picture above is of the La Grande Hotshots Fire Crew – a team that I was proud to be a part of during the summers of my college years.
We have all had experiences that have shaped our lives and determined how we see the world. For many of us, these experiences happen during high school or college – those years when we feel most alive and connected to our peers. For others, our best days may come from a shared experience with a close-knit group such as a sports team or the military. Others find glory through extended travel abroad or at a job they were especially proud of.
I am very proud of the summers during college where I worked as a ‘Hotshot’ for the U.S. Forest Service.
What is a Hotshot? It’s a cohesive unit of specialty firefighters that attack at the hot and/ or complex section of a forest fire. In short, it was some of the hardest and most rewarding work that I have ever done.
Why was this hard work so rewarding? I suppose it was because I was part of a team that was constantly challenged and we rose to the challenge together. Whether it was going 48 hours with no sleep or hiking for hours and hours to reach a fire, I can always remember feeling a huge sense of accomplishment after the challenge had been conquered.
What is it that makes these seemingly challenging times so rewarding? I think it’s because they represent a time of rapid discovery and advancement. We do more than we think we are capable of doing and our threshold for what is possible changes forever.
But what happens after the ‘glory days’ have ended? For many, we put them aside and move on to something else. This often looks like getting a ‘steady job’, getting married and starting a family, buying that new flat screen TV, saving up for the annual two-week vacation.
While all of these things are noble endeavors, are they really what we want for ourselves or are they unconscious decisions based on the expectations of our peer groups, families, or our culture?
And if a previous live event (like my good ol’ Hotshot firefighting days) were really so great, shouldn’t they provide the motivation for greater challenges? What would the future be like if we applied the lessons we learned and went on to something else that was even better?
What if we were to say to ourselves, “Wow, that was so incredible to have that experience. Since my glory days were so transformative, I’d better make sure I find a way to have more of them somehow.”
Here’s a novel idea: wherever you are in life, however old you are, begin thinking about every day as a new possibility to live as if it were the best time of your life.
If you are serious about continuing to have the best time of your life, answer these questions right now and share your thoughts in the comments:
- Which of your life experiences were the most inspiring and rewarding?
- How can you leverage these experiences to really get what you want out of life now?
- Based on your experiences, what can you offer the world that no one else can?
Whatever your answers to those questions are, you can likely find the beginnings of your quest to live a full life and make the world a better place for others.
If you like the idea of having more glory days, and you don’t want to retire from the sense of being fully alive, you need to work towards a meaningful idea of your own. And the best time to get to work on it is right now.
Now, I’m off to Lake Tahoe to try and reclaim some of my glory skiing days!