by Michael Donahoe
Since I retired, I have found myself thinking about my past and all the things that got me to where I am today.
We all have dreams and goals, and many of us spend a lot of time trying to reach them. I was blessed to be one of those who reached their main lifetime dream.
From the age of ten, I wanted to be a Columbus Firefighter. Really, my mom has it in black and white. She showed me in her diary/yearbook she kept that, at age ten, I wrote “I want to be a fireman”.
My grandfather was a Columbus fireman and I can only imagine that it was in my blood from him. Of course, for a few years there was not much I could do at my age, but it was always in the back of my mind.
Looking back on it, I feel lucky to have known what I really wanted to do at such a young age. There are many people in their 30’s and 40’s still trying to figure out what they really want to do. Sadly, some people never do get to live their dream.
As I got into my late teens, I was able to start actually preparing and doing some things to help me reach my dream. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a much longer process than I thought it would be.
Along with reading, daydreaming and doing some volunteer firefighter work, I was unable to get high enough on the hire list for Columbus Fire and had to keep daydreaming and preparing. I got a full-time job, then married, then had kids and life kept moving along.
Fortunately, thanks to my wife who pushed me, I got another opportunity and took the test. After the long process, I finally got on the list to be hired. Even at that, there were delays and more waiting, but after a 5-year process of testing and waiting, I finally got hired as a Columbus Firefighter.
Wow, I was so excited! I finally reached my dream that I had since I was ten years old. And as a side note, I started this job at the age of 43, so never give up on your dreams. Sometimes it may take a while, but it is never too late.
Now, the next part of life is what got me to seriously thinking about what happens next. After twenty-two years on the job of my dreams, and also turning sixty-five years of age, I knew it was time for me to say goodbye and move on.
After fifty-five years of dreaming, planning, preparing, waiting and finally achieving my dream, it all came to an end. My big dream was fulfilled, and now I was trying to figure out who I was and what do I do next. Now that the dream is over, what do I do?
Believe me, I am so thankful that I was able to live my dream. I cannot express how blessed I am to have done that, but I will be honest, it was a confusing time at first once it came to an end. Yet in time, I came to realize that even though my main goal and biggest dream was fulfilled and over, there are still goals and purposes in life. They may not be as big as the one I had at ten years old, but there are many goals and opportunities to focus on and move forward.
The main point being, never give up. When the dream is over, start new dreams, keep planning, keep looking forward. I believe we all have purpose and meaning, and no matter what age or what job situation you are in, there are always more things to accomplish. It is at this point we can take our time, relax a little and enjoy life in a more meaningful way without the time restraints and schedules.
Right now, for me it is spending more time with my wife and the family that I love, doing some traveling and reading. For others it may be volunteering, writing a book, traveling to far away destinations, spending more time with a hobby or even a part-time job of interest. We all have something that will bring us purpose. It just takes some time to figure it out.
Just remember, enjoy life as you continue to plan out the next goal. Keep dreaming, and never give up.