The Mid-Life Crisis Of A Jarhead Turned Manager

Randy Salars
With my honey at FreedomFest ’08

As I was sitting in my large, overstuffed office chair surveying my employees going about their business, I knew that something wasn’t quite right, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Supposedly, I had it all.

Or at least a lot.

A large happy family.  Manager of a thriving physical therapy practice.  A nice home. Living in a small, friendly town that advertised its 4-gentle seasons.

Sure, I could always do better, but I knew the stress was slowly killing me.

And I was bored.  I kept asking myself the question . . .

Is this all there is?

Deep down, I wasn’t very content and I knew it.

I had spent much of my earlier life as an explorer, treasure hunter and traveler with an insatiable case of wanderlust.

Camp Muchuck, S. Korea around 1983 USMC 3rd Force Recon

I was still very much in love with my wife and things were going well, but it seemed I had friends passing away on all sides, the kids had moved out and we were stuck in a rut.

I had recently read the book “Man’s Search For Meaning” where a guy by the name of Viktor Frankl had been imprisoned in the prisoner of war camp Auschwitz during WW2 and he had watched his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perish, while he remained alive.

He finally came to the conclusion that humankind cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.

And like Frankl, I decided to take the bull by the horns and try and find some meaning in my life.

How service gave me joy

I left my position at the therapy practice and after awhile took a job as an executive director for a non-profit rescue mission.

It consisted of a soup kitchen, food pantry, clothing bank, thrift store and homeless shelter.  The pay was lousy and the hours were long.  There were constant fights, arguments and trouble as we went about our task of feeding, clothing and sheltering those in need.

But after awhile, I began to have an amazing feeling rising up within me.

It was the pure joy of service!

Joyful servers
Some happy volunteers make lunch in the soup kitchen

Slowly I became aware that each act of service has an almost spiritual quality about it, and as we touch the lives of our fellow men who share our world a little bit of joy is given to each of us.

Even when we receive no thanks in return, we still receive that feeling of joy when we serve.  Through the years my heart has been changed and softened through service.

So if you are bored or feel like you are in a rut, I invite you to boldly step out into the world, get your hands dirty and serve your neighbor.

Warm Regards,

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