Sunday, December 31, 2017

Wins and Losses

Today was a rough day at work...and life.  The first official word that a "routine disturbance" call did not go well.  A report of a "minimum" of three officers down with one still inside did set well with me at 6:18 this Sunday morning.  A rescue team was being formed.  A New Year's Eve morning.  Please no!

A neighboring jurisdiction yes, but that doesn't matter.  We all want to help in any way, shape or form, no matter what, when that information is received.  Messages continued to come in that the media is not privy to.  And thank god for that.  That is another matter for another day. 

As the messages came in, I could read between the lines.  I knew the official word would not be what I was hoping for.  Knowing folks who work with that agency in both sworn and civilian roles, I pray for both equally.  For those in uniform, I pray they are safe and sound.  For those on the "other side" I pray those on-duty during the incident can endure what they will experience over the coming days and beyond as I know this experience first-hand. 

Then the word came.  They are organizing as "escort" from a hospital to the "Sheriff's Office."  That crushed me as this brought back those feelings from that past personal experience.  It reminds you that life is precious and not guaranteed.  It reminds you good must Win over evil.

Wins and Losses-

I am not talking in the literal sense of the word - Win.  Today was a day when the "good guys" Won.  A threat to the community was eliminated forever. That person made choices that none of us will ever understand.  Enough said on that.     

I am talking in the literal sense of the word - Loss.  Today was a day that a community in America suffered a great loss.  The Loss of someone who chose to serve the greater good to the benefit of that community.  The void left behind for those who continue to serve will never be filled.  That is an unfortunate consequence and one that must not be forgotten.      

Thursday, February 16, 2017

16 Years

16 years.  Let's think about that.  16 years.  It seems like just another number.  Or is it?  

If you look at it as a time period from the birth of your child, 16 years goes quickly.  All too quickly.  You are able to witness the growth of a human in its truest form.  You help them learn, grow and become independent.  You see them in their moments of sheer joy and laughter and you see them in their most sad moments.  You are their protector and you hope you have raised them well.  You now take a supportive backseat and watch how they react when life slaps them in the face.  Sometimes that slap is gentle, other times, not so.  You're hope is you have done your job well.  

Let's look at 16 years from a different angle.  16 years of a career in law enforcement.  A career that is extremely challenging and a career that can be very rewarding.  Much like birth itself, the start is rough.  This is a new world that requires many hours of training before you are even allowed to "hit the street."  The training and the on the job experiences further shape you as person and a professional.  Your protector is still there however, this role has now been taken on by many.    

After 16 years, much has been accomplished.  Whether in childhood or career, we believe there is much more to come. As happens all too often though, much more to come is not always the reality.  This is a sad reality that I am more than happy to never experience again.    

I'm talking the same amount of years, 16.  Each come with their unique difficulties just the same.  Most times those difficulties are overcome.  When they are not, often the hurt is real and goes deep.  This is yet another thing I could live without for the rest of my life.  

This has been a rough few days and this road is just beginning to be traveled.  Travel it we will and it is a journey that, like many others, will never be erased from my memory.

Tom-23, you will be missed.  


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Help Me To Understand

I'll never fully understand life.  I'll never fully understand people.  This is why I find myself saying the me to understand.....more and more the older I get.  Yesterday, an outstanding group of professionals I have the honor and privilege to work alongside lost one of our own.  Yesterday, a community lost a man who took the oath to serve and protect them.  Serve and protect them he did.  He did so with that big smile and often with a very subtle mischievous look on his face.  That's what I'll remember.

Here's what I do understand.  We are a family and we will carry on.  We will do so in honor of those we have lost during the course of our time together in this profession.  We will continue to answer the call to duty for the community we serve, and more importantly, for each other.  We have to.  If not us, then who?

Jason will be greatly missed and I know there will be much that may never be understood.  I'm O.K. with that, for I know and understand much of his time on earth was spent in the service of others.  Can't beat that.

Peace be with you, Jason.    

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Above the Clouds

10 years.  Here I am, again.  Opening Day.  Same hunting unit, 3rd rifle season, same objective. Harvest an elk. This being my tenth season, there is a special feeling.  Persevering through the last decade in pursuit of the elusive wapiti gives me great satisfaction.

If I were a baseball player, 3-for-9 is a great batting average.  2-for 2 over the last two seasons? Even better!  Now the pressure is on to keep the streak going.

In hunting though, you realize the odds are stacked against you.  No matter.  The experiences, life lessons, laughter, sights and sounds make it all worthwhile.  A successful hunt?  That feeling is indescribable.

I am ready to give it a go and see if the hunting gods will bless me during season 10 of this journey.  I'm set up in "The Meadow" atop the Continental Divide ready and waiting for the elk to make an appearance.  Peaceful does not begin to explain the feeling when you are taking in the natural beauty this vantage point offers.  

There is one big difference though on this Opening Day.  I'm sitting next to my son.  It is his first elk hunt.  I have been waiting for this moment for many years now.  There is so much I want to teach him.  So much I want to show him on this hunting trip.

I'm fairly certain he'll never forget his first trek up to "The Meadow."  Not for the nostalgic reasons that you think.  Suffice it to say, we had a bit of "land nav" difficulty. No excuses, just the fact this is the first time in my years of hunting this area where I didn't have the advantage of either snow, moonlight, or both, while heading into the black timber at 5:30 on a November morning.

I mentioned the learning experiences hunting offers, right?  Well, this was one of them.  I learn something every year I go up there.  I either learn something about myself, something about nature or something about elk.  And sometimes that learning encompasses all three.  Always learning, not a bad way to live.

After a couple of what I'll describe as short detours, we made it to "The Meadow" as daylight was getting ready to break.  He had been giving me some good-natured grief as we trudged up the mountain on those short detours and that continued as we were getting set up.  I giggled.  Lesson #1 for son on first elk hunt compliments of dear 'ol Dad...Check!

Sitting next to him, I think to myself the view is the same, the feel is different.  It is different because I am sharing it with my son.  It is a feeling of being above the clouds.      

Saturday, December 24, 2016

So This Is Christmas

So this is Christmas and what have you done
Another year over, a new one just begun....John Lennon

The verse John sang so many years ago is timeless. I like to think everyone is always reflecting.  I realize they are not.  Being an introvert, I'm reflecting endlessly.  It doesn't make me better than those who don't, let alone perfect.  I only hope it makes me a better human.

So here we are.  Another year over.  What are you going to do in the year to come?  Given my line of work, I know there is much ugliness out there. With that, let me challenge you.  Do your part to stem the flow of ugliness.  It starts with positive thoughts.  Cheesy as it may sound, let me break it down for you into two simple things:

  • Smile and look into eyes of those you interact with
  • Be forgiving

Your life is blessed many ways.  You just don't realize it.  Or maybe you do.  I only hope. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

What's In A Name? - Noting the Passing of Pat Summitt

summit - noun-
     1. the highest point of attainment
     2. the highest state or degree       

I'll be the first to admit, I am not a huge follower of Women's College Basketball.  My sister, on the other hand, is.  To boot, she has been a a Lady Vols fan for some time now.  As you can imagine, the news of Coach Summitt's passing is nothing she wanted to hear even though she knew it would be a reality one day.  Simply stated, "it sucks."

What I will say is I do have an appreciation for those who are masters of their craft, whatever that craft may be.  In the case of Coach Summitt, it is obvious what craft she mastered.  Take one look at her coaching career and the stats speak loudly and clearly.  She was one helluva coach.

Even though her birth name was not Summitt, I see an irony here.  Or was it all part of her destiny?  People generally aren't willing to work hard for you without the occasional "pat on the back."  Summit.  She not only brought herself to hers, she brought many others to theirs over the course of her life and career.  That is definitely a true measure of a person.  Can you bring people to achieve great things and to those things they don't believe they can achieve?

While the news is sad, rest assured the world is a better place for having Coach Pat Summitt leave her footprints on it.  Those footprints will continue to leave even more footprints for years to come.  And that, folks, is what life is all about.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Look Up

Look Up.  Two words when put together seem so simple to understand.  That would appear to be an accurate statement however, it took me 40 plus years to realize the true meaning.

So here I am, in boot camp, two weeks  after graduating high school.  Marching, marching, marching.  The only place you look is directly at the back of the head of the airman who is marching in front of you. The goal in this scenario is a group moving as one.  Everyone knowing what each other is going to do at every step of the way. A rudimentary concept, yes.  Given what we were training for, it was understood that rudimentary concept could save your life one day.  That sets the tone.  Always focused, always driven.  Focused and driven towards the goal that has been set, no matter how big or how small. 

Hindsight being what it is, it took me many years to transition to a mindset of a TRUE appreciation of, shall we say, the surroundings.  The surroundings when you are trying to reach a goal or simply understand  life.  Let me explain as best I can.

I have lived in Colorado since my late 20's.  That means I have the view of the Rocky Mountains at my disposal.  Disposal in the sense I can simply look up from almost anywhere I am at any given moment and see their beauty.  Sure, I would notice them from time to time when I first moved here.  True appreciation of them, not even close.

Fast forward to my mid 30's.  I felt the need to get back to nature and decided to start hunting elk in those same Rocky Mountains.  Motivated and now driven by a friend who has been hunting the elusive wapiti since he was a kid, I figured why not?  I never heard him chuckle outwardly as he agreed to let me tag along.  And now here I was, not knowing shit about shit when it comes to hunting elk and "hoofing it" at elevations between 8,500 and almost 10,000 feet above sea level.

Make no mistake, hunting is hunting at the very basic level.  The stark realization of it all comes when you begin to understand the game you are hunting varies widely in it's native terrain and behavior.  What that means is you are in for a ride.  He drug me all over those Rocky Mountains that first trip.  He had "to show the me the terrain," he said.  "You gotta go where they are", he said.  Cussing under my breath the whole way.  Nonetheless, I kept going because I wanted to experience everything I could.  Unforgiving terrain is what I experienced for the most part that hunt.

I experienced something else.  I didn't realize it until my second hunt though.  During the first hunt,  I was focused on following my hunting partner up and down those hills.  Getting my bearings and committing to memory the terrain.  Being the rookie, I didn't want to mess up his hunt.  He was sacrificing for me to learn the ropes.  (Something I'll be forever grateful for)   Come that second hunt, I was out on my own.  Wandering as I saw fit.  Trying to find the elk in their backyard.  Meandering aimlessly for a bit while trying to stay warm, (we hunt in November) I stopped...and looked up.  What I saw was amazing.  Simply standing out there, all by yourself, with almost nobody around for miles, soaking it all in. 

I never realized just how important it is to not lose site of the true meaning behind those two simple words until that moment.  Look up.  If you don't, you may miss the beauty of wherever you call home  has to offer.  You may also miss the beauty your life is offering you. 

Look up.  You never know what you'll see.