As part of my schooling, I have been getting up at 3 am to be in sync with the U.K. One of my professors, Dr Martin Kornberger, gave a talk on the value of reflexivity early in the course. He gave us permission to just sit and think. No distractions. Take time to allow our learning, our reading, our observations and our thoughts to percolate, coalesce and connect.
I have been learning to slow down and do that. The following was my reflection this morning.
For years, the night was full. Weekend nights were dreaded for the busy-ness that they represented. Nighttime brought out another element of society. And with that element came pain, trauma, drunkenness, fights, drama and death. The peaceful darkness broken by screaming sirens and whirling lights. As an officer, this was my environment. It was where we operated and where we seemed to do the bulk of our work.
Though on the tamer side, this picture was typical of the experience. It was -27 Celsius. Two brothers were brawling in the dark on the snow covered street. Drunk from New Year's revelry and oblivious to the cold, they pummelled each other with their fists and feet while their mother looked helplessly on.
These types of events are exemplars of those that caused me to create and perfect my “switch”.
The “switch” was something that I made in my head. It was a necessary part of my survival. If you asked me to describe it, I would say it looked like an innocent light switch on a wall. But it’s not connected to the lights. It’s connected to my emotions. It became a pseudo-physical part of me that that allowed me to turn off and function with efficiency in some pretty terrible environments. My wife and kids called it “Cop-Mode”. There have been a few times that they’ve seen that switch thrown in their lives when while off-duty, I had to go on duty and “be a cop”. From arresting a drunk driver in St. Catherines on Christmas Eve, to apprehending a violent fleeing assault perpetrator in London, U.K. and dealing with or assisting many others, they have seen the instantaneous change in me. I have talked to doctors, nurses, paramedics and firefighters…they all have versions of the switch. It’s how we survive some of what we encounter. The problem is, when you create the switch, I think that there is a part of it that always stays on. We can develop an emotional flatness and a cynicism for our fellow man that is hard to shake.
Years of using the switch created a dullness in me that I have only recently realised. I think that it is time that the switch is shoved in a box and put in a back room. It’s time to allow myself to really feel again.
I don’t remember the last time I got up in the early morning and appreciated the peaceful stillness of the pre-dawn.
For me, this is a chance to heal and reconnect to my emotions. To feel the crisp night air and to enjoy the quiet, unspoilt beauty of the morning.