A Walk


It’s kind of funny how the most simple things in life can solve some of the most complicated issues. I know I haven’t been posting much and there is a good reason. A couple of weeks ago I was at the fire house and we were called to respond to a fire. The details were not clear until we pulled up to the house but when I walked in…I don’t know what to say.

A 6 year old girl was standing next to a wood burning stove that caught her pajamas on fire and she suffered 3rd and 2nd degree burns to over 90% of her body. I will skip the details but I will say that night I had to throw out my clothes and keep busy not to hear the sounds in my head from that call. She’s just a baby and that will haunt me for sometime to come.

I’ve seen a lot of bad things in my life and I can process it fine. One way is to escape to nature and the other day that is just what I did. And wow, did it work a miracle!

img_0342This is the trail right next to my place. It goes for miles without any human sounds or contact. This tranquility of being alone on a mountain while the snow is falling is just what one needs to clear the mind and remember who you are and why your here. I’m not too religious but it is hard to argue that God isn’t real when you are surrounded by beauty.

img_0341The sounds of the wind blowing through the trees and distant branches falling was so peaceful I felt as if I was the last person on earth. I walked about five miles up the mountain and sat down. Taking advantage of the situation I took out my iPod and listened to the only song that made sense of the moment and reflected on how lucky I am. Here it is, “The Wind” by Cat Stevens.

Damn it feels good to be a gangsta!

23 thoughts on “A Walk

  1. billy, you are just the best.

    what an awful thing to see, but i’m so grateful that there are people like you who CAN process a situation like that and do what needs to be done.

    Amy, you’re the best. I have learned how to deal with shocking events over the years. Thanks to the Army. 😐

  2. The only thing I can say is wow.

    But that is a gorgeous trail. I know these people that my dad is friends with who have a trail like this on their property. It leads to a river eventually. It’s so beautiful. It’s almost as though you’re in a rain forest, with the trees hung low over your head and leaves on the ground. I love taking walks! Also, I have to mention, that picture looks some what like the scene from your t-shirt you got at value village… just saying… 🙂

    You know, it does! And now I will wear it everyday and say to people pass, “I live here” as I point at my belly.

  3. I’m very sorry that you had to see that, but since you said you’re capable of processing it, I’ll just move on and say you are a LUCKY BASTARD to have a beautiful trail running right by your house like that.

    I am lucky. I use it a lot more. I am planning an overnight hike one of these days. I have to make sure that bears really do hibernate and it’s not a fabricated story from cartoons like Yogi Bear. Because I believe what cartoons tell me.

  4. I’m really glad I read this post. I too have an emotionally difficult job – I’m an aide in an autism class and many days we are on the floor pinning students down so that they don’t hurt themselves or anyone else, and some of their parents don’t seem to care about them, most of society doesn’t care, and more than likely they’ll all end up in institutions after they leave school. That’s nowhere near as difficult as being a firefighter, I’m sure, but it shares that quality of knowing that no matter how much you give it’s not always enough. Anyway, I struggle to find tranquility after the bad days and I think next time I’ll go out for a nice walk in the woods. Thanks for the great idea!

    Jazzy, you are a hero. Dealing with autism would be too difficult for me. I crave an emotional response and not to get one would kill me. Especially seeing people discard loved ones to institutions. That is a hard one.

  5. I think everybody needs to find what renews their conscious so they can face another day at their job. I worked 2 years ago at a call center for 3 months. I quit because my nerves couldn’t take the angry customers I had to talk to on the phone for several hours of the day. That is nothing like seeing a 6 year old charred and burnt but it’s pretty bad. Ever since I quit I always wondered what i could do to make it so people don’t bother me as much. I used up every reason to stay at that job, and I felt I ran out of excuses. I am sorry that you had to see that girl and it’s picture will always stay with you. I don’t want to twist it around to make this comment all about me, I really do sympathize with you. I think we all have things that we have seen that will always stay with us. Just being able to get past it is the skill we all need to develop.

    I just put a hex on those people who were mean to you, Jodi. Tomorrow they will wake up with facial rashes and mega static charge. Don’t feel bad for me. This is the path I have chosen. People get burned.

  6. It is a powerful, sad and disturbing image – the image of this little girl’s injuries, the image of you literally trying to shed the night from your mind and body. Taking walks is powerfully important. Even city walks. I am not particularly religious either, but sometimes the faces of other people living their lives, if you really watch them – the good and the bad of them – there is God in that too… I feel like maybe it’s more like that beauty is in us and the world reflects it back to us when we need it most… Like maybe it’s that we offer ourselves to the world and then the world offers back… I dunno’. Waxing far too rhapsodic for a Wednesday night… *sorry*… Feel like I should hike up my pants and spit or something… Anyway… I hope the peace has held long past your walk and “wind” and that you are still feelin’ good…

    I am doing fine now. I stop by KMC hospital to drop her off gifts and see the family. She has a long road. I like your waxing. It’s why I have an addiction to your blog. I understand your view on people’s faces.

  7. I have been struggling with the issue of “God” for a number of years, but despite that I do believe that there is a force bigger than all of us, whether conscious or not. We can call it “God,” or we can call it “the universe,” or “karma,” or any number of things, depending upon how we perceive it. In this comment, I will refer to it as “George.” The point is, I think that things have a way of balancing themselves, whether or not George had any part in it.

    Your story is a perfect example: you work a job that is potentially scarring (both physically and spiritually), and it is likely that George has balanced your position by giving you the opportunity to live in such a beautiful place. Conversely, I do not live in a beautiful place; granted, it is one of the prettier places in New Jersey, but it is by no means beautiful. But then, my job is relatively easy, and does not require the same type of courage yours does.

    Now, I know that this is not always the case, because all to often I see heroes living in squalor. But perhaps in your case, it is George’s way of taking care of someone who has voluntarily and selflessly put himself in a heroic position.

    You know, I dig George. I find it endearing that you refer to the Almighty as George. You rock, Megs.

  8. As a mother of a young girl, I cannot even imagine having to deal with an incident of that magnitude. I’m sorry you had to witness that…but I’m thankful for people like you who risk their lives for us.

    Speaking of risking lives…the trail is beautiful, but what’s the mountain lion situation like in your neck of the woods?

    • I’m no where near a hero. Being a parent is. You should see the strength her parents have. That dwarfs any courage I could ever have. Being a Mom must be terrifying at times.
      Funny you should ask abut the mountain lions. They are here and actually there was a lady killed on that exact trail last October when she was running. I thought it was a rumor but the fire department confirmed it when I asked. They had to retrieve her. 😦

  9. You rock…I know I couldn’t handle it. Don’t retreat too far into yourself though, my dear. We like emotionally stable and well-adjusted Billy.

  10. Thank you friend. I can’t count on you all the time but when I can it’s worth it. I made two videos about my experience working there. Might as well find the links and give you the opportunity to choose to watch them. Youtube is doing maintenance so if you are watching like right now which I doubt just refresh the page a few times it should work after that. Enjoy, or something.

    Part 1

    Part 2

  11. I have to go hiking at least once a week to feel calm. My favorite hikes are the ones where I don’t see any other people. They’re usually a mix of introspection, occasional animal observation, physical challenge (must have hills), and solitude I rarely get to experience nowadays. What a great trail you have.

    What happened to that little girl is heart-breaking.

  12. I’ve been lurking around this post for days, trying to find something profound enough to match it. I can’t. You’ve pretty much laid out one of my worst nightmares, to have something like that happen to one of my babies. And I’m glad you were able to counter act it with a walk. And you’ve made me think I need to find my own walk, even though it won’t be as pretty as that, to get some perspective, let the universe in.

    Great post, Billy.

  13. Oh that’s awful about that little girl…I am so sorry to hear that, I can’t imagine what it would be like trying to get that image out of your head, and what it would be like going through that…I too find serenity in nature during confusing/tough times; personallly I like being around trees, because there are never birds too far away when there are lots of trees, and the combination of wind rustling through trees and birds chirping…ahh, that is where I am at home 😉

  14. That looks like a beautiful trail to walk through. Unfortunately I don’t have that living in the city. But your pictures almost take me there.

  15. I’m not sure what to say.

    I have always been that way in the face of tragedy.

    I am always the one who silently stands in the corner and says nothing while others console or cry or hug… always afraid of doing somethign wrong, saying something dumb.

    I’ll cry in my own time, speak kind words in private and console where it is due- but never in a social setting.

  16. That’s so awful about the little girl! Nature is a good way to relieve pressure, stress, and to just get away. Lucky for you, you live so close to so many cool outdoor spots.

  17. I agree with megan. I think you’ve got such a groovy place to live there cause you had it coming. You deserve it. You’re a standup guy and I’m glad you can get away after having to witness stuff like that.

    Be sure to take a camera with you when you go on your overnight hike cause I’m waiting for the post where you tell us about how you just narrowly escaped being mauled by a mountain cat or a yeti or something.

  18. One of my boys was in the intensive care unit after he was born…hooked up to a repirator and we didn’t know know if he would make it. I wanted to pull my hair out and act…in some way act to help my son.

    I’m not that much a practioner of the faith stuff, but something popped in my head during the process (maybe from my mother or sunday school 20 years ago).

    “Be still, and know that I am God”. It is hard to see the worst and believe it works in rhythm with life…but I guess that’s why believing ain’t always easy.

  19. That poor little girl. That is terrible. I am glad there are people like you out there making the world a better place, because like some people have already said, not everyone can handle that time of job. I know I couldn’t. I would be crying all the time. Thank you.

Speak to me, Egor.

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