Day 27

Day 27

It could have been the penultimate Lockdown blog, but we’ve still got five more days. David Bowie’s Five Years comes to mind for no other reason that it’s five, although that song is about the end of the earth coming in five years.

Thinking, hoping that it might be only one day to go I went back and looked at the earlier blogs of the Lockdown. Quite a bit of talk of anxiety and being indoors. It did kind of scare me a bit at the beginning.  The 80sqm apartment, my love of freedom,  I think I was a bit sceptical reasonably early on – or more questioning – as it worried me and still does, that the media have acted like an arm of the official information bureau, rather than any deep questions. I mused about what I would do – watch all 25 Bond movies – I’ve watched one only.  Moonraker with Roger Moore – great sets, actually a really good story, but the lines. Ouch, James Bond 007 The Sleaze!. I finished the third series of Ozark and nothing else on TV has really held up well in comparison. As the days stretched into weeks I’ve felt my rational mind more active and have read lots about COVID-19 and consumed a lot of data, some of which I’ve shared here.

People I know have a range of views but many people, sadly I think, appear consigned to defeatist – or they would say realistic – unquestioning compliance. At the risk of sounding like a consultant, that’s not to say that we’re not doing the right thing.  But I think we should, must! question such a massive imposition on our lives the impact of which is long term for many.

On our leadership programmes we really encourage the leaders on the programme to do serious self reflection. At first it’s not natural – it can be seen as time consuming when real work could be done. But as we do more of it, there are real moments of clarity and insights that can cause material and long-lasting change for people in their lives. This is the unquestionable beauty and satisfaction of this work. But it needn’t be a programme or a special event that drives reflection.

This electronic, public diary has helped me to process my thoughts. The changes forced upon us these last few weeks have given me deep and unexpected insights about my own behaviours. I’ve realised that I derive quite a lot of contentment from being much more structured that I have in the past. I feel confident that this new structure is something I take forward. It’s happened on the back of other reading I’ve done – Cal Newport’s Deep Work – is the main reading, so it’s been a happy coincidence. I don’t know whether reflecting each day has been the deciding factor in these insights, but it’s almost certainly accelerated it.

As a police cadet there were a few unusual things we learned. We learned a lot about death and dealing with it practically and emotionally. This has come up quite a bit for me these last few weeks as there’s been lots of dialogue about death, and as my rational mind has come forward, it’s played out here. I’ve felt it’s been quite healthy and therapeutic for me to discuss it here and I do hope it’s not been too confronting.

Another thing we learned about at the Police College was what act is the act that makes an attempt. That is, how close to the crime does the act of the suspect need to be to be an “attempt”? If you’re going to rob a bank, does buying the guns cut it? Does getting into the Ford Transit van to drive to the bank do it? Does marching into the door and demanding to be let in through the sliding doors do it? The answer is, you look for the “penultimate act”, which would be the last example here. The one before is the anti-penultimate act and doesn’t cut it. Of course there might be conspiracy, possession of weapons etc, but not attempted robbery. Some things stay with us forever. Hopefully yours are more useful than the need to explain anti-penultimate just because you started a short dialogue using penultimate. And I haven’t gone all totally structured!

Reflection using everyday tools of deep thought, writing, processing, sharing and being honest with yourself can bring amazing changes for the better for anyone who wants to give it a crack. Those things can stay with us forever and for good.




Death on holiday

It was the sight of raw grief on the edge of the forest near the little shopping centre at Matarangi as family and friends of the young man found dead kept vigil while the police did their business. There was a strange stillness with a couple of dozen police, lots of police cars, police talking in hushed tones, distant from the family. A stern, strangely familiar nod as I ran past. Wonder why they don’t ask me if I saw anything. Afterall, I might have been running yesterday.

Out on the highway, it was hot. You notice the empathetic drivers – some give you the entire lane if they can – while others assume the lane is theirs and runners and cyclists need to fit in what they don’t use up. Lots of police cars coming and going in and out of the township – they fall halfway between, giving you some room, but not a lot. You can hear their high speed tyres, almost as noisy as a four-wheel-drive.

Nearly 7ks out it was getting too hot so I stopped for a drink to see the funeral director’s stationwagon, speeding like there was no tomorrow. Strange, what could be the rush? And hasn’t he seen enough death to know what can happen when you push the limits? But I know that adrenalin-fuelled urgency from my days in the police, where you drove fast and sure-footed to and from the sober, still, scene of death. Something about death made you confuse importance with urgency, and urgency always won.

So, it was a death on holiday for the young man. Similar age to my big boys. Everyone agreed “how would you cope?”, “it’s tragic”. We feel it. We understand the grief and are secretly relieved it’s not someone we know. So what can we do to make value out of such a tragedy. If we came across someone in distress, would we call for help? Even if they said they were alright? I hope we would. We promised ourselves we would.

Give them all the space they need, but we’re on this distant planet all alone with only each other to rely on. Let’s make it a promise to look after each other. If we don’t, what then?