Throwback Thursday! Serendipity is a funny thing… It means finding the good in a bad situation. In 2008, I was in the best shape of my life and after months of training, studying and testing, I got my dream job… I was going to be a New York City firefighter.
I’ll never forget walking into the FDNY headquarters for the first time. I had studied every day, took classes and ran with a 50lb vest three times a week. And out of 30,000 people who took the test, my hard work paid off… I was #790 on the list and was appointed to the second academy.
Our class, however, was the last class to be appointed before a lawsuit came upon the FDNY saying that it discriminated against minorities in its hiring and went into almost 5 years of litigation in which the FDNY was not allowed to hire a single person. Our whole class was on permanent hiatus.
We were told to stay in shape, and once this was over, we’d pick up where we left off. So, for the next few years, I continued to run with my weight vest, continued to volunteer as a firefighter in NJ, and continued waiting to go back to the job I had worked so hard for.
It didn’t happen, but here’s where the serendipity of this story comes in…
In 2011, I fell 40 feet onto concrete, broke my back and was initially paralyzed in one leg. Miraculously, I made a full recovery within four months. I didn’t need surgery and the only lasting symptom was being a half inch shorter due to my vertebrae compressing. My doctor said he’d never seen someone fall that far and hard and make such a recovery. After asking about my workout regiment, he determined that because I had been consistently running with a 50lb vest, while terrible for my back, it made my core so strong that it held everything together when my vertebrae shattered. It was the very reason I wasn’t dead or paralyzed.
This year I closed the chapter and hope of ever being an FDNY firefighter, but it’s because of that journey that I’m still alive, breathing and walking. Sometimes it’s really hard to find any good in a bad situation. Sometimes it takes years to find out. But if you look for it and have faith that it’s not all for nothing… sometimes you’ll find it.