Monday, February 13, 2006

Life is thankful while you can.

There are times in my life when I am reminded of the fortune that has befallen me. It happens pretty often in my line of work. People don't call 911 when things are going well. Everyday I hear of the worst that life has to offer. You name it. If it's a tragic story, I've heard it. Some people burn out doing what I'm doing. They become jaded to life's more sobering moments. It's all just in a days work. They become calloused and pretty soon they're down right emotionally stone cold. Basically they become assholes. Divorce rate is high. There's alot of stress. Stress is a silent killer, many die young. I mean...I'm cantakerous and opinionated. Some people have said I'm "abrasive" although I prefer the word "assertive". Either way, I certainly don't want to become an asshole. I haven't been called that yet, at least not to my face.

I believe that I've discovered the secret to avoiding that. Whenever I encounter tragedy in my daily work, I immediatly think to myself how fortunate I am that it is not me or mine. No matter how grotesque or heinous the event, rather than storing it all away I deal with it right then and there by reflecting on my good fortune for all this crap not happening to me. Does that make sense? It's kind of selfish really, a "better you than me" attitude, but it's benefits are three fold. First, it's done...gone. It's dealt with. I don't have to worry about all this crap coming out 10 or 15 years down the road and crushing me like a ton of bricks until I go insane with a high powered rifle on some overpass taking out innocent passers by. Second, it allows me the benefit of desensitization while exempting me from the emotional callousing experienced by so many in public safety. I'm still able to empathize with the citizen to whom all this terrible stuff is happening. I can sound genuinly interested because I am. I can be personable and caring while still maintaining a voice of authority that people who are panicked absolutely need. Thusly it makes me better at what I do. Finally and most importantly it keeps me thankful. It keeps me grounded. I never forget that life is short and sometimes tragic. I hug my kids...often. I tell my wife I love her. I look twice, maybe three times before I pull into traffic. I buckle my seatbelt. I double check that I turned the stove off. I'm ultra careful about where my kids go and with whom. I'm suspicious when others are complacent, not to the point of paranoia but enough to ensure the security of my family and myself.

I need these reality checks in my life. My natural tendency would be to take all that I have for granted and without the constant reminder that my job gives me, I would. I think God put me where I am for a reason. I'm good at what I do. I make a difference in some person's life everyday, and they make a difference in mine.