Firefighter Zen: A Field Guide to Thriving in Tough Times

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I chose Firefighter Zen by Hersh Wilson because I wanted to understand volunteer firefighting better. My husband has been a volunteer firefighter for almost three years, and while I value volunteer service, I also resented the time he was spending away from our family. Part memoir and part self help guide according to firefighters, Wilson’s book is a moving account of love, life, and loss.

Wilson and his wife Laurie became volunteer firefighters nearly by accident. Previously professional ballet dancers, they were recommended to join as volunteers as a way to keep advanced first aid techniques sharp.

Now 30 years later, Wilson reflects on what he has learned from volunteer firefighting. The book is organized in standalone chapters. Each chapter starts with an inspirational quote and a vignette from a “call,” a fire or emergency response. Wilson then relates the story to larger themes in firefighting and in life. He skillfully explores the murky waters that come with a life of service: judgement, compassion fatigue, and the eternal question “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

Wilson doesn’t offer any easy answers. He highlights appreciating the simple things in life and coming to terms with your own mortality as pivotal. The themes of acknowledgement and acceptances also play a large role.

There were a lot of layers to this book-with five parts, 28 chapters, and numerous inspirational quotes and field notes; I got a little lost in the organizational structure. However, I know I will be dipping into this book whenever times get tough.

Reviewed By:

Author Hersch Wilson
Star Count /5
Format Trade
Page Count 256 pages
Publisher New World Library
Publish Date 2020-08-18
ISBN 9781608686889 Buy this Book
Issue November 2020
Category Self-Help


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