I recently attended the funeral of one of my fellow officers. It was one of my darkest days. As I sat in the crowd, heart heavy with emotion, I was touched by the words that were shared about his life. As I listened to the amazing stories, I closed my eyes in a feeble effort to mask my own grief. I imagined him playing with his baby daughter and holding her tiny little body against his like all protective fathers do. These images coupled with the stories about his kindness, passion and love of life began to comfort me. For a moment, I thought, “what will they say about me when I go?”
This thought may sound grim, but for me it was cathartic. I began to realize that my life needed some fine tuning. I felt as though I was doing a lot, but not enough; saying what I felt, but not as often; I have been making an impact on others, but not as many as I could. What is my legacy?
Only I will define my legacy. My legacy will be defined as the vapor trail I leave in my short stay here on Earth. My values, character and personal touch on life need to be meaningful in every way. Some circumstances in life I cannot control—but I will not let them control me. Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die Discover that I had not lived.”
It is time to start living my friends. To me, this means living for yourself and for those you are passionate about. Living for yourself is not as selfish as it sounds. We need to nourish our souls by saturating our lives with the love and presence of the people that matter most and not dwelling on the things that in the end won’t matter. There are forces in our lives right now that are sucking the very marrow from our souls that Thoreau so eloquently discovered in his own.
Sing, dance, laugh, joke, conquer, fight, cry, and be proud of what you stand for. Peel off the armor that protects you from your fears of judgment, as most of what you fear will never happen. When you hear no, ask why? When you think you can’t—think again. When others dismiss you, stay true to yourself and go forward. Leave your signature on this short story of life and together we will know what they will say about us when we rest.
About the Author- Cameron Knauerhaze is the former CSI Board President and current member of the CSI Council. He is a Orange County, CA Police Sergeant with 16 years experience in patrol, investigations, and community policing. He has a Master’s Degree in Communications from Gonzaga University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Emergency Management from Cal State Long Beach.