Those were the four words I wrote down on my resignation form yesterday.
My boss quoted the form “Please be specific and avoid generalizations”..
“Well” I said, “I am trying to put a positive spin on things”
You see, I signed up to be a Protection Ranger in the Twentymile District of North Carolina, the remotest section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With no road patrol and no frontcountry campground it was a backcountry ranger’s ideal situation. Lots of poachers to chase, the beautiful Fontana Lake, and 132,000 acres of wilderness that I had roamed in my hoghunting days excited me to the core. Life was good, but change, like the seasons, is inevitable. With sequestration, under staffing, and more budget cuts on the way, the “least” visited section of the park is not a priority on the managerial list.
I could see the writing on the wall, or really the lack of it on the board. Arriving early for a meeting at headquarters one day, I saw on the dry erase board, an exercise for projected minimal staffing. There was no Twentymile. At times this summer I was only working one day a week in my district. They articulated the need, but when I signed up for my job I didn’t have dreams of sneaking around campgrounds looking for dope smokers, babysitting tubers, or typing report after report. My heart yearned for the woods on a cellular level.
Maybe it was during my Fur-“fish & game” -lough, when I couldn’t even sleep indoors because the sense of freedom was so overwhelming. Maybe it was the paradigm shift that occurred during forty five episodes of Peace Revolution podcast on my commute to another district. Maybe the realization that 25 years of my life is not worth a pension of $1200 a month. Or maybe, It could be the fact that where I am heading there is no “box” to contain my creative ideas. Weekends and holidays off, growing a beard, no more stinking reports… maybe it is all of it.
On Saturday I had received my 10 year service award and on Thursday in four short words I had given up a career and the permanent status so many of us feds chase.
“You sure?” asked my boss.
“Absolutely” I replied.
“What are you going to do?” he said
“Hunt hogs and teach classes. After that, whatever I want”
Resource and visitor protection is the division I worked for, but my mission really won’t change much. Being able to focus on building my school and the curriculum will do just that. People only protect what they value, and people only value what they can experience or find useful. Fear or lack of knowledge hold a lot of people back from connecting and becoming part of nature. Both of those are easily remedied by education.
For the next six months, I will also return to my old hoghunting job, roaming the mountains in the district I love. Stalking the woods with a suppressed 6.8 again makes me smile. I will still keep my eye out for poachers and if they need me for a carryout or SAR, I will be around.
So to all the people out there that are in a job that leaves you unfulfilled, but you cannot sever the ties of comfort and security, I leave you with a quote from the crappiest movie I have seen in a while, After Earth. I was drifting off to sleep when the words of Will Smith brought me back
“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity Kitai. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice. We are all telling ourselves a story and that day mine changed.”
You gotta love the Fresh Prince, he does have a way with words..
Breaking the chains of debt slavery and living within your means gives you more options while in the Matrix
Choosing your lifestyle first
Unplugging and waking up
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