As always, I want to say a big thank you to all who has made it possible for me to distribute this message. I cannot express my gratitude enough for your assistance.
I also want to thank each of you reading this. Your time is important and I understand that. I’m honored to just be a part of that. I hope you will find some encouragement or inspiration. I know you’re busy and you do a lot to get ready for your shift. So again, thank you for reading.
We are quickly closing in on July 4th, (even quicker than I realized!) the day we celebrate our independence by handling lots of fireworks-related calls! But joking aside, what would our Founding Fathers think of America today?
I began thinking about that due to a hobby I caught up on recently. I had begun working on my family tree a few years ago so that I can tell my son “where he came from” and one day turn it over to his care. I’ve come to see that there are some interesting people in my family tree (and to those of you who know me it’s probably no surprise!). I would read some of their stories about coming to America, or how they lived in early America, or the struggles in Eastern Kentucky in the 1800’s. I thought, “Man, some of these people had a real tough life”. Then the thought came to me “What would they think of how I’ve lived my life thus far?” Maybe a little farther than that, “In a hundred years when I am no longer here, and all my family has to go on is what I had done, what kind of “legacy” would they have?
Sometimes during certain times we think about “legacy”. And if you’ve noticed, quite a few of these notes discusses that in some form or fashion. So I’m going to give a few principles about how to build a legacy.
- What is most important to me? Make a list. There can be a lot that goes on this list for us. Figure out what that is for you. It could be things like family, friends, social groups, religions groups or something like being healthy, educated or accomplished. Figure out what that is. Then….
- What am I doing with what’s important to me? Now that we know what is important, what do we do with it? Also, if you’re anything like me, there are some things I do and places I go that are completely unimportant. Am I balancing that, or am I just blowing through life with reckless abandon? Are the things that I say is important getting my time and money, or is something “stealing my life”?
- Am I sharing my story with others? Sometimes we learn things the hard way (I know I do.) Do we share those lessons with others? This goes beyond teaching the rookie how to do a traffic stop, fire ground operations, and the technical part of our jobs. I remember the advice I got from a Riverside officer when I went to night shift, and that was invaluable to me and it saved me pain and frustration. Do we help others with the “life lessons” we learned? Some of the mistakes I made, I don’t want anyone to have to learn the hard way. So it’s important to me to share my story with others. Who knows? Maybe I can make like a little less painful and a little happier for someone else.
- Do I exemplify integrity? If the answer is anything other than “Yes”, there is time to work on it. Today is the best day to start. If people looked at my life and judged all chaplains by my life, would I like the standard that is set?
- What can I do to raise the level of humanity just a little bit today? This one I asked last year and I like it so I’m going to repeat it. Am I “raising the level” of my family, my friends, my department, or am I lowering the level in some way. Am I making more deposits, or more withdrawals?
There are possibly dozens of questions we could look at, but this gives us a start. Sometimes, even the best of us lose that perspective. We all need a “shot in the arm” from time to time (or maybe a “kick in the pants” if you’re anything like me). So if you find yourself struggling, ask someone you trust, ask a Chaplain, ask that trusted co-worker, or you can ask me, my contact information is below.
So, Happy Independence Day, America! Let’s go out and leave a legacy.
In closing, as always, thank you so much for who you are, and all you do. I’ve said it before and will say it again, you all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.