First, I again wish to thank everyone who has made it possible for me to distribute this message. As always, I cannot express my gratitude enough for your assistance.
I sit at my kitchen table to write this note. We had some work done in a couple of rooms in our house and so my desk became the spot where things were “temporarily” stored until it was complete. Even after the work is done, my desk it still a mess because I have not made it a priority to clean it up again.
To steal a line from the old Magnum PI series, “I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right.” I know that the state of my desk is of no concern to you. But, hear me out, because our society our professions, and our individual lives go into turmoil and chaos for the same reason: We have not made it a priority to clean it up. Things come into our lives in numerous ways; our decisions, the decisions of others, accidents, or maybe we just don’t take the time to clean out our lives periodically. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m no exception to that rule. Sometimes my life has gotten over-crowded. Life has put extra demands on me. I tried to do too much and still watch X hours of TV a week. I had commitments and still wanted to spend a lot of time on sports or hobbies. Then before you know it, something begins to slip.
Maybe you heard a spouse say “We need to talk.” Maybe your doctor said, “Well, I have to give you some news you won’t like.” Maybe you find yourself nodding off on the drive home. Maybe you go to church and someone thinks you are a first time visitor. Maybe the light on your dashboard turns into a disabled vehicle. I wonder if some of you can relate now.
This may be the most unusual Fourth of July I can remember. Between this disease (whose name we are tired of hearing about) to unrest in our communities, to uncertainty in our departments, we may feel uncertainty (at best) and “Why do I even try” at worst. I completely understand some of those emotions. We are a career field that helps people. That’s what we signed up for. That’s what you did (and continue to do) all that training for.
Like I told officers in my least email: “It was one of the proudest moments of your life. So what I want you to do is remember THAT day. Remember the day you said YES to a live of service and helping your fellow man. Remember the pride and the swell of emotions from THAT day. Share them with others. It doesn’t matter if you are 2 days from retirement or 2 days into the job. Your voice MATTERS.”
I believe that is true, regardless of which field you are in: Law enforcement, EMS, Fire service, dispatch, etc. Remember that day. Remember those emotions. The other thing I want you to do is take some time to breathe, to think, to evaluate. Is there anything in my life that I can get rid of that helps me be more flexible: TV, social media, other activities that pull me away from my priorities? Then, if you find things you can trim, do it. Have some “margin” in your life if/when/where you can.
So this fourth (or whenever you can celebrate if you are working that day), take some time and celebrate and enjoy your freedom. Spend time with family and friends. Take time to remember a partner that is no longer here. Eat somewhere besides fast food or 2 day old cold lunches. Remember a citizen or two that you made a difference for. Do a good deed for someone. Go somewhere and get a pat on the back. These are some of the things that make us human.
And like I’ve said before: Don’t give up, don’t surrender, DO NOT QUIT. My email and number is below and if you need to share something that you don’t feel you can tell anyone, I’ll get back with you, and everything is held in the strictest confidence.
I’ve said it before and will say it until I take my last breath; you all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough. Thank you for all that you do. I wish a happy Fourth of July to each and every one of you.