Robert “Bob” Beane has lived doing rescue work, both at sea and in the city of Portland Maine, as a firefighter. Today he is a Reiki master, a shamanic practitioner and is in integrative, holistic health care. As a shaman, he is a student of the spiritual belief systems of all indigenous cultures around the globe. But it was his new book, “Welcome to the Zoo” that drew attention to the Windham Public Library last Wednesday. Folks listened intently about his experiences as a firefighter for the Portland Fired Department (PFD)
|Author, Bob Beane|
In his book, he breaks down the sequence of escalating fire alarms, from still-alarms to the general alarm. “That is how the system works and it works well,” shared Beane. From 1999 to 2000 Beane was part of the maintenance crew at St. Josephs College where his responsibilities quickly evolved from grounds keeping to learning with electricians about alarms and fire detection systems. It was working on the campus that planted the seed for writing his book. “There was a gentleman I would see, and after glances of mutual recognition, [I] came to find out he was a news reporter who had been at some of the fires I was at. One day over a cup of coffee, while swapping stories, he told me that with all those stories I have in my memory if I didn’t write them down, when I die they are gone. That was my catalyst.”
The book took five years to write, due to not knowing what or what not to write. “I would work on it a little bit and walk away from it; come back a little while later and work on it. I kept doing that,” explained Beane. Covering a span from 1967 to 1989 with the PFD there were so many instances, so many experiences, good and bad, that it took time to narrow down what meant the most and what affected him the most.
To this end he shared his first real experience; it happened not long after being hired by the department. “The first rescue I did was when I had only been on the job two weeks. I was asked to go inside to the second floor, where flames and smoke were billowing out and do a search.” What he found was an elderly gentleman in his 80s looking dazed and confused. “I took him by the hand and led him outside to safety. That was my first save,” said Beane.
He also talked about the men he was associated with over the years within the department. “I consider myself so fortunate today, that there were 320 men on the PFD when I went on the job. About 90 percent of them were WWII veterans. They took me under their wings and taught me.”
Now retired as a lieutenant for the PFD, and having spent time in the military, he finds that somewhat of comparison to firefighting. “You’re fighting a different enemy and using different tools,” explained Beane. Standing through the entire talk behind a table adorned with examples of firefighting gear, he was quick to point out one item in particular. It was not only his hat, but the round metal pin that was attached. “See what that says? It says welcome to zoo”. He is often asked exactly what that means a he always answers by pointing to the side of his head. “Inside here, that’s where the animals hang out; it’s also the title of my book.”
All of this seems to have led to his other passion, that of a holistic practitioner or Holistic Healing Spiritualist; which means to Beane, “I believe in practices that [believe] every living thing has a spirit. A shamanism is is a human system that has come down to us from indigenous cultures around the world. It’s a healing system that has been around for over 50,000 years.”
Beane’s skills were acquired through training in Usui, Karuna and Lightarian Reiki along with 70 years of what he calls, “life school”; observing and participating in the human condition.
Currently he is working with veterans and those who have developed some kind of cancer.
When he is not practicing the craft of healing, he is working on an idea for what would be a third book. This one is a murder mystery with a touch of romance. Asked if it was more than an idea and actually in the works Beane simply replied, “Yes. It’s on my computer.” Will this one take five years to complete? “No,” he replied with a chuckle.