1 : an image, representation, counterpart
2 : the act of reflecting or the state of being reflected
3 : mental concentration; careful consideration – a thought or opinion resulting from such consideration
“The pessimist resembles a man who observes with fear and sadness that his wall calendar, from which he daily tears a sheet, grows thinner with each passing day. On the other hand, the person who attacks the problems of life actively is like a man who removes each successive leaf from his calendar and files it neatly and carefully away with its predecessors, after first having jotted down a few diary notes on the back. He can reflect with pride and joy on all the richness set down in these notes, on all the life he has already lived to the fullest. What will it matter to him if he notices that he is growing old? Has he any reason to envy the young people whom he sees, or wax nostalgic over his own lost youth? What reasons has he to envy a young person? For the possibilities that a young person has, the future which is in store for him?
No, thank you,’ he will think. ‘Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even the things of which I am most proud, although these are things which cannot inspire envy.’ ”
Viktor E. Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning
With the top down and cool wind in my hair I accelerate on the freeway onramp to get up to speed and head for home on my last day with the company. But not my last day in the county…
It’s an emotional day, to say the least, and I have time to reflect upon the years as I navigate through the darkness to the normalcy that I call home. Ultimately, I have an optimistic view of the future and that optimism has its origins in the accomplishments of the past. There’s a lot to be proud of in the work that my tribe of EMTs and Paramedics have done in this county. Through incredible adversity we have advanced street medicine to a finely honed machine. Though the machine sometimes throws a cog we always find a way around it to accomplish the tasks at hand. We have had outstanding leaders at the helm as well as the occasional drunken captain, but in the field we have always pulled together to bring the best possible care to our patients.
My mostly urban county has taken a toll on us yet it has given us so much more than is easy to recount in a single telling. The high call volume gives us a variety of experiences early in our careers. Those that survive the first few years have the mark of a battle hardened soldier on their foreheads. We may bear a few more worry lines and some new gray hairs, but we can also boast of relationships, forged in the trenches, that will last a lifetime. Some of those comrades will ship out tomorrow to take our flavor of street medicine to other counties. I wonder how they will be received when they finally reach their destination. Will they look back with fondness to the mostly urban county of our origin? Will they see themselves as finally having escaped the chaos? Maybe they will be ostracized in their new system and find that coming home is the only tolerable option – it’s happened already and we haven’t even started the transition.
The freeway takes me into the outskirts of the county and closer to home – I’m just one car in a constant stream of headlights and tail lights blurring into streaks reflected in the glass buildings in the empty office parks. As the economy fell the new buildings became empty and now stand as hollow glass blocks, devoid of occupancy; a sea of monuments showing us the economic reality that we all tried to deny until it was too late. In a real estate parody of the Occupy movement they stand idle, refusing to leave, yet their message is lost in obscurity.