This morning I enjoyed a conversation with an old and dear friend, retired Col. Ralph Biele. This conversation was prompted by a sale circular delivered in today’s Springfield paper detailing the latest and greatest offerings from my personal candy store, Bass Pro, also known as Cabela’s. This circular listed a number of rifles, ammunition and assorted outdoor gear that I no longer have a need for, courtesy of arthritis and the realization that immortality is the Provence of the Lord and only the Lord. If you have not already come to this same realization…..you will soon enough. Here is my take on this unavoidable consequence of living.
Police officers, especially those that are “blooded” by the tragedy they must confront develop a unique cloak of invincibility often referred to as “Image Armor”. It is this cloak that permits us to remain stoic in the face of unspeakable tragedy and remain calm when the breath of life has been sucked out of the scene we are charged with managing. Image Armor, of course, is a mental thing and creates a certain aura of invincibility, masking the reality that we are slowly approaching a day of reckoning that awaits us all. Police officers seldom consider their own mortality as we are often preoccupied with the immortality of those we deal with. Invincibility is stripped away by any number of considerations, most physical in nature, some involving the mind, which is perhaps the cruelest consideration of all. So how does this relate to a Bass pro add?
My beloved bass boat is reposing in a garage in St. Louis, owned and operated by a much younger couple in the pursuit of crappie. As I write, I am propped up in a chair with a pillow insulating my lower, arthritis plagued lumbar region from the chair back. Never mind this inconvenience, the discomfort is a stark reminder that launching a boat and dancing around the trolling motor on a tree lined arm of Truman lake isn’t going to happen until the medics can figure out how to stem the “discomfort”. The circular describes the latest aluminum boat package like those that elevated Johnny Morris from the days of selling terminal tackle out of a van to multi-billionaire. With decent credit, today’s crop of fishermen who have never given thought to the day when a boat will no longer be useful, can slip down one of my favorite banks and jerk the descendants of the fish that found their way into my live wells over the years. This same “discomfort”, read pain, has dispatched my Harley to the care of a younger man who I can guarantee is not thinking about the day he climbs off the bike for the last time. If you are one of my contemporaries and are still riding and fishing, God bless you. Do not, under any circumstance, take today for granted! The Master is not in the habit of telegraphing his intentions for us as we negotiate the life he has granted.
Below is a photograph of my 40th birthday roasting at the patrol Academy, many years ago! The picture is full of “Image Armor”……..
It has not been that many years ago that I stepped in front of rooms full of troopers, confident in my ability to disarm them and defend my handgun against disarming while teaching the art of handgun retention. Today, Sharon would stand a fair chance of disarming me by capitalizing on my sorry excuse for a back and thumbs weakened by surgeries. During this same time frame, I was tasked with discussing and conveying strategies to troopers designed to keep them alive in armed confrontations. I did so, often relying on a challenging, profane style designed to shock our officers into accepting the reality that death awaits the unprepared. I make no apologies for my approach, which was not designed to win points for decorum. When you are teaching police officers in a physical arena, you are going to be challenged. Losing when challenged is not in your best interest as an instructor. My number one asset during those days? An absolute reliance on image armor.
Today, my readers are either confronting the inevitable decline in ability that awaits us all or are basking in the glow of an existence that has, thus far, spared them the inconvenience of a significant decline in physical or cognitive ability. Memories are priceless, especially when the likelihood of creating new, similar, memories isn’t in the cards. My image armor has long since been replaced with the necessity to develop new pastimes and adventures that make room for a weak back and challenged hands and I am enjoying life aided by a wife who gets it and a dog who demands little beyond honesty and exercise.
Have you given any thought to the subtle changes and challenges that are emerging in your life? Has the reality of adjusting to these set in? It is never too early to consciously contemplate a strategy to manage the hills and curves in our lives. Attorneys live by the axiom that preparation is everything when going to trial. Life, my good friends, is the biggest trial of all.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend!