It can be hard to think of the future when you’re in such an intense environment. When you’re regularly bombarded with mentally, emotionally, and physically overwhelming tasks it’s rare that you have the perspective to see beyond the responsibilities on your plate. But, because I was meditating, I was able to stay somewhat connected to my thoughts and feelings about the future.
And, occasionally, through all the external and internal noise, a rare moment of clarity would occur.
One night, as I lay awake in bed after an evening meditation, I had one of those moments. Suddenly, in a flash of insight, the thought came to me that I really would be able to succeed at this.
I saw myself pushing through and succeeding. I saw myself cranking up the work ethic just one notch higher, and barely, by the skin of my teeth, getting a job as a medic.
A certainty came over me. Just like I had made it this far, I would continue to take one small step at a time until eventually, I made it to the end. If I really wanted to do it, I knew I could.
And in the same moment, I realized that the struggle, the fight to just get through to the next step, would never end.
There was an image of me walking around, with my ankles shackled to a heavy weight that I was dragging behind me.
I realized that my reward after all that work would be to continue doing what I had been doing, feeling how I had been feeling. The promised land would always be right on the other side of my next shift, right on the other side of my next promotion, my next vacation, my next assignment, my next certification. Never now.
And I realized that, actually, all of that would be ok. Pushing through is a valid option. I would be ok living like this. I could carry this weight, drag it along forever. I could even take short breaks and go on vacations where I wouldn’t have to carry it for a while.
But my soul wouldn’t flourish. Maybe I’d get temporary relief from that general state of drudgery, but I wouldn’t be able to flourish as a human being.
In that moment, I realized that just because I could do something, didn’t mean I should.
And, upon knowing this to be true about my paramedic career, I felt freedom, power, and relief welling up in my chest. I knew I couldn’t go through with it. Or, at least, that I shouldn’t go through with it.
I had a clear and direct insight from my deepest self, and it was telling me that this was not my best path. Sure, it was one path, maybe even a good one, but it was not the best path for me.
As I rested to go to sleep that night I felt so amazing. It was clear that being a paramedic was not what I wanted to do. Just as I was drifting off to sleep, the thought popped into my head “So, are you going to go to school in the morning?”
Sure enough, my alarm went off the next morning and I decided I would go into class. Now that I knew I wouldn’t be graduating, there was no rush to leave school. I felt freer and more relaxed that week than any other week of my paramedic career, even though I was still keeping up with all of my work.
Somehow, I knew this was just a game I was playing — one that I wouldn’t be playing for very much longer.