by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Brian J. Schimian
Well, thanks to a combination of the Midnight Freemasons Curse, an overdose of Alpha Brain and an undoubtedly unhealthy helping of giardiniera on a late salad after returning home from a particularly interesting City Council meeting, I am unable to slumber and am ready to write out the recent tribulations of my life...
The past few years have certainly seen some major changes in my
family's life. Some good some not so intriguing and some down right scary... Many aspects of my journey through life certainly have not been willingly planned as a select few may have been. I have been involved in, and with out a doubt, influenced by public service and charity towards others my entire life. The rock solid pillars and exemplars in my life are my father and his father (wether I knew it growing up or not).
My grandfather held many jobs early in his life and joined the Marine Corps at the onset of WWII. Growing up in the 80’s, both my parents worked full-time and thus my sister and I spent the summer weeks living at my grandparents home. After the war, my grandfather settled into accounting and was a very successful businessman. My summers found me traveling with him across the country by car and even along for a business trip to London. You can say that the amount of time spent under his wing instilled some of his “Greatest Generation” ideals. He used to always take potential business partners out to the Country Club and pay for a round of 18 holes. He kept both his and the other guy's score. At the end of the day, over a gin & tonic I am sure, he would compare his score card to the potential partners score card. Pops always said, "If a guy can’t be trusted at golf, how can you trust him at business?". My Pops was certainly a man of integrity and I never heard him complain, ever, about anything. Well, until his later years, but by then he had more than earned the right to air his opinions. Yet he would only do so in his own home.
My father grew up in a little more rough and tumble home than I enjoyed during my summers with Pops. He also joined the
military only he enlisted during Viet Nam and he did it prior to being drafted. He said if he was going to GET volunteered, it was at least going to be somewhat on his own terms. He spent a number of years guarding the 101st Airborne & SF bases around Southeast Asia. After returning from serving his Country, Dad was hired as a police officer and would remain committed to protecting and serving for almost 30 years. I do not think I one could ever come across a more committed and loyal person than my father. That goes for both sides of the coin, if he liked you, he had your back no matter how thick it got. If you crossed him or anyone he was looking out for, you were in for some bad days, weeks, months and in a few cases years. My father’s virtue of patience equalled that of his cunning & relentlessness... That didn’t go so well for some people, especially those that were creatures of habit. He could also BS his way into or out of ANYTHING! The man certainly had a gift. He also maintained the perception of his position as that of, being there to help others.
Early on, my father joined Freemasonry and the two fit together like a custom designed glove on your hand. The same goes for the Shrine. He even found his own mini-t for parades and we spent the winter tearing it apart, paining and fixing it up. I spent so much time around public service and Masonry as a child that the members of the Lodge and Shrine Club half expected me to be on my dad’s heels, no matter the occasion. To the point that the first question out of them was, “Where is Slick Jr.?” if I was around. I helped around the Lodge at all the functions and at almost every parade that I could make. When I learned about DeMolay, I couldn’t get my hands on a petition fast enough.
Skipping ahead to present day... As I sit in my office writing, it is past one in the morning. A few hours ago I came home from a local City Council meeting, nothing out of the ordinary for just over a year and a half of living in my beautifully quiet town of 3,000 people. However, during this walk home I had a particular bounce to my step. About a month ago, the Alderman for my Ward had resigned after just being reelected in April. In the months since moving in, I had made a point to be at almost every Council meeting and even became appointed to some committees for the town. I had made my presence and willingness to help known and it had not gone unnoticed. I arrived home this evening as the Alderman-Elect for my Ward for the remainder of the term, ending in April of 2015.
I have always had the stance that “everything happens for a reason” and that if something is meant to be, it will happen IF not, then move on and so be it. I couldn’t help but wonder what cog I was becoming in some grand design and to what ends. Thanks to the Alpha Brain, my mind refuses to shut off. Couple that with the recent books I have been reading, thanks to Bro.’s Johnson & Lewis and I am left searching for the conspiracy or hidden narrative for my life, being scripted by some ancient Priory of all knowing elders. What has led me to this particular path and this certain seat in local government? Certainly there is a question of what even makes me worthy of such a position.
Rewind to that excitedly nervous feeling in the outer room of the Libertyville Masonic Lodge as I prepared for my degrees that would initiate me into the Brotherhood of Lake’s Chapter Order of DeMolay. That Degree Work was the most interesting and unimaginable thing that I had ever seen. And it was all done by teenagers. From memory! I do not recall ANY prompts from the advisors during this ceremony. The presence of these guys that were my age or a little older still resonates in my mind. It was certainly the beginning of a time in my life that I will never forget. I can still recite my parts of the ritual (maybe with a prompt or two, or maybe just to see of the “Dad’s” are paying attention...). Those tenants still hold true to how I try and live my life to this day: Filial Love, Reverence for Sacred Things, Courtesy, Comradeship, Fidelity, Cleanliness & Patriotism. I certainly owe my organizational skills, ability to memorize, speak publicly, maintain my appearance & image, understand business & parliamentary procedures, delegate tasks and time management to what I learned so many year ago in DeMolay. These ideals and skills were reenforced in me in 1998, when I was initiated, passed and raised to the level of Master Mason and became a life member of A.O. Fay Lodge, #676 in Highland Park, IL. The Lodge where my father twice served as Worshipful Master.
Certainly between my family and Masonic influences, one can draw a straight line to my career in public service. But even that has tangents and is anything but a straight line. As I prepared for the Council meeting, I figured there may be the opportunity for a Q&A with the Council or at the very least a few minutes to toot my own horn. I took some time to read over my letter that I had submitted to the Mayor for consideration to the Alderman seat. This was a single spaced FULL page bio on what I felt qualified me for the position. This was a particularly difficult letter to write simply because I don’t normally look to toot my own horn. My actions and reputation have always paved the road for me. Maybe not always a nice smooth road, sometimes a completely vertical, no hand hold terrain, but I never shied away from it. Good or bad.
Even reading this letter now, it is hard to believe that it describes me and yet there is so much left out of who I am and what steers my decision making.
After that I attached my “resume”... Another 3 pages... I know the rules of resume writing, God knows I have applied for enough jobs in my lifetime. But every time I try and cut something out, it feels like I am removing a part of myself. Parts of what gave me my experiences and made me into the person I am today.
I was Master Councilor of Lakes Chapter, Order of DeMolay in 1995, the same year I graduated high school. By fall of 1998 I was married and had built a brand new townhouse. I was working full time, putting myself thru EMT school and working part time at the fire department. By the end of 1999 I was a Field Training Officer for a large private ambulance service. In mid 2002 I had finished paramedic class and was hired as a full time firefighter by the City of North Chicago and had the pleasure of serving with some outstanding firefighters. They truly did more with less, I learned more about myself and my career during this time than can be explained. By the end of that year I was offered a job with my home department and made the decision to go home after an experience that can only be earned in the trenches of what seemed like all out combat. In 2003 I started my own consulting firm and flourished with work. I traveled and worked with more types of people & business than I can verbalize and I never paid one cent for advertising. The 2004-2005 school year landed me in a part time teaching position at the local high school technology campus. This was a challenge, but one that bore more fruit than I ever thought possible. After that school year ended, I procured a part time firefighting position with the Wauconda Fire District. This was without a doubt, the most outgoing and courageous group of men & women I have ever had the pleasure of serving with. One Lieutenant and a Chief quickly became mentors to me and people that I will look to emulate, should I find myself in a leadership position in the future. In 2007, for family reasons, I decided to close my business and concentrate on the fire service and specialized response teams with the County & State. In mid 2009 I was sought out by an old paramedic friend and partner from the “private” days to come back and run a new contract at a stand alone ER in town. All the while continuing to amass numerous certificates and training milestones, mostly of the self education type.
If you can follow that jumbled time line, you would see that I not only held more than one job a any given time, but put myself through some very difficult classes to better my career and my ability to help others. Toss in finding the time to have two kids and I don’t understand how it was all possible in such a short time. However, I never complained about the hours, days and in one instance a full week away from my family. My schedule allowed my wife to stay at home and raise our children. The remaining two pages of my resume are lists of every certificate and professional association I have been a part of.
Suddenly and without warning, all of this came to a screeching halt.
Like I said, the family went
through some difficult changes as reflected in the three year hole in my resume. I suffered a career ending injury in the line of duty in the beginning of December 2009. This was the height of my professional career and the involvement with Special Teams. The point I had worked my enter professional career to obtain. I managed to work a few more weeks before finally coming to the realization that I was more of a detriment to the shift and I seriously needed to get checked out before I was the reason someone got hurt or worse.
Two years of physical therapy, two shoulder surgeries and some serious days of depression later, I was pensioned out. The days of selflessly helping others had ended. Supporting a family on a fraction of what I used to bring home. It was obvious that things were not tenable in their current state. The wife & I began searching high and low for a place to move to and raise our family. Luckily we did our due diligence and took our time. We spent days in other states looking at areas and property. Countless hours on the internet researching everything about several states in the Union. When we thought we would have to move out of our house and rent for a while until we found a place, a house hit the listings on a friday afternoon. We went to see it the saturday and did everything but put cash on the table right then and there.
By mid July 2012, we were moved in, loving our little town and the rest is (recent) history. Looking back, I would not change one single thing about my professional career. I was fortunate to have been in the position and be able to help so many people in so many extraordinary situations that not many people could handle. I was, and still am proud to bear those burdens. But I also would not change anything about my injury and the last three years. I have been able to spend almost every day with my kids, and I missed a ton of them growing up while I was working and doing for others. I certainly have been re-centered on what matters.
Now, later today (it is after 3:30AM now...) I have to meet with the City Clerk to be sworn in, sign the bond paperwork & get my key to the city (no really, there is only one room I can not access!). I get to go to the elementary school and have lunch with my daughter. Then I get to head to a previously scheduled meeting with the Chief of Police to discuss what I can do to take some of the Emergency Management work load off of his list of to do’s.
What has led us here, I have no idea. How my career experience has led me onto two City committees and now an Alderman seat, I do not understand. If there is some vast, elder society pulling strings that placed this particular house, in this particular Ward, at our feet at the exact time we needed it and somehow orchestrated my elevation thru the City politics to where I am now, then I say KEEP PULLING THOSE STRINGS, BROTHERS!!! I will refuse the tinfoil hat... for now...
I have seen first hand on numerous occasions, both as the beneficiary as well as the guarantor, the benefits of this Brotherhood we call Freemasonry. They are often unspoken & quietly understood and there is certainly not much more valuable or rewarding in my mind. I can assure you all, as I sit here and breath, none of this journey has been planned by me, but I am grateful to be the one along for the ride, as uncharted and fantastic as it may be.
So if I am part of some mysterious plot to overtake the government, I say “good show chaps! We’ve taken another step towards domination!” Seeing as I have until April of 2015 to worry about importing my “Chicago Crew”, opening a campaign headquarters, amassing a war chest... I mean, campaign funds... and taking it to any would be challengers, I will practice the government mantra:
“Hi, I am from the government and I am here to help you.”
Thank You & Good Night... errr... Morning.
Bro. Brian Schimian
is Life of Member A.O. Fay #676 in Highland Park Illinois and the Medinah Shriners - Lake County Shrine Club. He was also the Past Master Counselor of DeMolay - Lakes Chapter in 1995. Brian is a husband and father of two. Bro. Brian is also the lead contributor to the Brothers In Arms
blog, a pro 2nd Amendment blog page. "Start Square, Finish Level"
Your story, your virtues, your preserverance and faith in your abilities to keep going, never falter regardless of the life's hacks are inspiring to a girl like me who has gain hope due to your story that I CAN acquire every dream and goal I set before myself, especially the ones I don't. Thank you kindly.ReplyDelete