These last two weeks I have been playing catch up from all the travel. It is amazing how dependent I had become on my computer. Being without one since mine self destructed in Europe has been a challenge. I finally have a semi functional system going right now then enables me enough computer time until I get my new one, which should hopefully be sometime next week. I am not going to lie as hard as it has been not having regular computer access like I am used to, it has also been kind of freeing. With a working computer, I am always thinking about how I need to do this, I need to do that, I got this email that needs to get answered, this client that needs this or that. Without the computer, I have the preceding thoughts, and I also have the accompanying "oh shit, I have to do all that and I don't have a computer!" panicked thoughts that go with it. However, there is also a lot of freedom. I can either panic and stress, which is no fun, or I can look at the time as a gift... Happy Birthday Me!
At a time in my life where I am at my all time busiest having these forced breaks from the computer and working world has been amazing. I have had more time with friends, more time to brainstorm, more time to develop client programs; there have even been a couple of days where I was able to find the time to take a second shower after a long sweaty day - something that has not been a regular luxury since the start of the 1000 Challenge. :) I have resolved, once my computer situation is fixed, to incorporate "broken computer hours" into my regular day and week.
I LOVE MY WORK! And as such it is not uncommon for me to sometimes get lost in it. My days start around 430am and end around 11pm. And there are days, if the opportunity is there, where I can happily work from the time the alarm goes off until my head hits the pillow, save for workout breaks and a break to go and tackle whatever is up for the 1000 Challenge that day. However, as much as I love work, part of what this year and the 1000 Challenge is all about is balance - creating and the maintaining of a balance with all aspects of my life. So while I love work, even I can get burnt out at times - I don't want this to happen, hence the pledge to have broken computer hours. Broken computer hours will be that time where I just pretend my computer is broken, hence shutting down my mobile office for the day. The time is then my time to use as I choose.
I am constantly putting reminders in my phone of things I need to do on the computer, but then there is no computer, so my phone looks like one big Christmas tree with flashing reminder lights constantly blinking. It is funny the relationship I have with my phone. It is a very love hate as it is another piece of technology I have become overly dependent on, and like the computer, it too has mandatory broken hours.
With emails and text messages becoming my primary means of communication, my thumbs have become one of the strongest points on my body due to all the thumb typing. However, with that added strength they are also becoming disproportionately developed, muscularly, when compared with the rest of my fingers. Going back to the theme of balance, I either have to A.) learn how to text with my pinky fingers (that sounds like more work than it is worth,) B.) start an intense conditioning program for my fingers to get them caught up to the prowess of my thumbs, or C.) implement broken phone hours and give my thumbs a few hours off each day... hmmmmmm???? As much as I was looking forward to ring finger pushups and pinky finger curls, I think I will go with C.
There is nothing in the mandate or the contract we sign with our phones, and with our computers when we get them that says we need to be available 24/7. That is something that we indoctrinate into ourselves, at least I know I have for myself. I am not saying that desire or that commitment to your job is a bad thing, I do think though that it can be very misdirected at times. Think of all the additional time you would have for family, for friends, for life, for challenge lists of your own, if you had broken technology hours. No phone, no computer, and no TV, try it out, what do you have to lose?
As I said earlier, much of this last week has been devoted to getting caught up. Caught up with work, caught up with friends, caught up with 1000 Challenge updates, caught up with life, in general. I had a really cool week of challenges this last week, largely due to the diversity of them. Animals, historic sites, picnics, beaches, and police sirens were all involved, and all provided a completely unique experience from the next. One in particular stood out and that was my ride along with the Santa Barbara Police Department this last Saturday.
So why a police ride along? Through the 1000 Challenge, I want to be able to experience as many facets of life as possible. Law enforcement is a unique sub group in our culture, we (and I am making a generalization here) often look at police officers in a similar way as we do celebrities, we know they are real people, but they don't quite seem real - in the way you and I are. They are different, we interact with different, we view them differently much in the same way we do with celebrities.
With celebrities we have intimate relationships formed with people who we have never met. They are constantly in front of us, TV, Magazines, Movies, Internet, you name it them and what they are doing are in our face. I am more well versed on Lindsey Lohan's latest legal mishap than I am of what is going on in some of my closest friends lives, as I am sure many of you are too. We grow up watching them, we are raised with them constantly around and as such we form a bond with them - that they are someone special and it is an exciting thing to be in their presence if the opportunity arises.
With Law Enforcement we form a similar bond, but rather than there being a surge of excitement when being in their presence, we have a twinge of fear, like we must have done something bad. When you are driving through town, and a cop car drives past you, towards you, or anywhere in your field of site, how many of you sit up a little straighter, tense up a little more, check your speed, hold your breath, hide your cell phone... put on your best, "I am a good citizen face?" I know I do, every single time, even if I am already being on my best behavior, I make my best better because in my mind I think, "there's a cop, cops are trained to get people who are doing something wrong, am I doing something wrong? I could be? Shoot, what if I am?! I don't want to get in trouble!" I consider myself a good citizen, but I definitely like to "fudge" a traffic law or two, and thus I sometimes feel like I am "due" to get caught.
We grow up watching countless programs, movies, shows, reading books about who cops are and their role in our lives. We are taught that cops get and punish the bad guys and are there to protect the good guys. Cops also take on the role of the ultimate authority figure, they are the law! We all have been "bad" and punished by an authority figure at some point in our life, and I would wager none of you enjoyed those experiences, I certainly didn't. As a result we learn from an early age to associate "messups" with punishment. As an adult, if you mess up there no longer are the parental figures around to punish you, there are the cops, and the cops take people to jail with all the other bad guys.
I also had pre-conceived judgments of the police department going into this evening, some of them were as follows: I see cops driving fast through town, I assume they are doing that just because they can, they can do it and they can get away with it, whose going to tell them no? They are the law, they are the supreme authority figure. I live in Santa Barbara, a relatively safe community, how hard can the job be, you just have drunk people to deal with on State Street on a Saturday night. They, cops, just want to give us, citizens, as many tickets as possible so they can try and meet some sort of ticket quota. The list could go on, but I think you are getting the point.
Saturday night changed my entire outlook on what I perceived the police force to be. I left thrilled by the opportunity I just had and ashamed of the judgments I had carried around in my head for so long.
The night began with a domestic violence call, then a noise violation call, ironically for a wedding party, then a heroin abuse call which lead to an arrest, for six hours, call after call came in, some minor, some potentially more concerning. Every time a call came in that wasn't a life in danger call, that cops went speeding through town without their lights on, not just because they could, as I originally labeled them as doing, but because it is their job to serve and protect the public as quickly and as safely as possible. Also they have a partner already at the scene waiting for them to get there.
The couple of times the board was not lit up from calls, we drove through the area of town that is most notorious for gang members and drug abuse. The officer I was with pointed out areas that were on their constant watch list, areas that they frequented to catch heroin addicts in the act. He showed me a picture of a man who was wanted for murder, a member of a local gang that lived in the area we were patrolling through. Beyond all of this though, what i was most impressed with was getting to see the human side of the officers.
On any given day, police officers interact with a broader spectrum of the human experience than just about any of us. They are not just police officers, they are also relationship counselors, big brother figures were kids on the streets, therapists; they are the people willing to deal with humanity at its worse so the rest of us do not have to. One officer I was talking with told me about how he is constantly talking with his colleges about how to keep their marriage successful. He has been fortunate enough to have a long lasting marriage, but many others struggle. "It's a tough job," he told me, "you have to learn to leave it behind when you go home. If you come to work and give a 110% of yourself to this job, which is very common especially for new officers, you have that much less you can give to your family." Hmmm, sounds like balance to me?
Having balance in life, in different aspects of your life is so important. If we give and give and give to one area, that is that much less we have to give to another, and that much more we have to take from another because we don't have anything left to give. Life is like a see saw, it is a give and take, a balance. Our technology does not own us, we own it. We are not our jobs, our jobs are roles we play in order to contribute to society. Sure there are exceptions to this, but just because you are a lawyer during the day, does not mean you have to be a lawyer at night when you come home to your friends and family. It is a choice, you can flip the off switch to that just the same as you can with your TV. Balance, Balance, Balance... it will take a lifetime to master, but only a few seconds to improve. Give it a try. And to any police department officers, friends of, family of that may be reading this - I apologize for my pre-conceived notions, thank you for proving them wrong. It was an honor to have that experience Saturday night. Thank you.
Enjoy the pics,
In case you didn't get a chance to see my cameo on George Lopez Tonight check out below. I show up around minute 7 or 8 :)