A few pounds of iron was mined from the earth, processed into steel, and sold to a bladesmith. Using hand tools alone, the smith began to give the metal shape. The piece was heated and pounded until it roughly resembled a sword. But steel requires tempering to retain an edge so the bladesmith raised the temperature of the forge and laid the length of steel inside. There in the fire, the smith had a decision to make. The blade could be melted down to begin again or held in the fire until brown-red, then quenched in an oil bath to temper.
Our lives can take the same path. Specifically, in the military, the forge is turned up and the fire is felt from 12-17 years’ time in service. It’s then many feel burned out. And this sometimes translates into “a sign I should be doing something else.”
I have felt it. I have lived it. At least three times.
Looking back, now I know it was not a sign, but a forge.
Do not mistake the tempering process for burn out.