I found myself up against a particularly difficult deadline and had to be at work about 3 a.m. one day to make sure everything came off without a hitch.
My neighborhood was dark, the roads were dark, even the convenience store where I stopped for an energy drink was dark everywhere but inside. I hopped back in my car and drove the nearly vacant streets downtown and saw a pair of headlights about a block away when I made my last turn to the office.
It turned out to be one of Altus’ finest, a police officer in a marked cruiser who probably drew the short straw at work to get the midnight to dawn shift. I saw the lights turn and follow me the final few blocks to our office and I pulled into a parking space. Fortunately for me, I drive a little slower than I once did in my younger days. My vehicle plates were all up to date. I was entirely legal and doing good things — if working too much is a good thing — and it was a good feeling to know that someone else was watching my back.
I didn’t feel harassed, nor did I feel afraid. I got out of my car, went around to the other side to grab my bag and waved as the diligent officer drove by and waved back. In that simple wave I remembered many of my own days on guard duty.
Whether I was standing a post myself as a young Marine — sometimes on a military base in the United States and sometimes overseas in desolate and deplorable conditions — or whether it was supervising a force that I was hoping to bring the entire group back home safely, there are so many memories and each had a little different flavor.
The way my shift worked for my three years in northern Japan, I was working either Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, or Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, every year. That’s just they way things are done.
Sometimes our nation’s military is busier while at peace than we are during war — watching and waiting for something to happen. It can be draining on one’s mind, body and spirit because you want to “peak” or be most ready at the time it is necessary. Much like an athlete training for a big game or even a politician trying to make sure he or she is most popular just before the big election.
Sometimes, in an attempt to be safe, people go overboard. Security systems, locks, anti-theft bars, dogs, guns and the like. But the best security to keep bad people out can also create a prison when combinations are forgotten or keys are lost. It can even get to the point where the owner or resident of the property skirts around these security measures, leaving doors unlocked or forgetting to turn on systems. So the best security is something that you actually use.
The same goes with too much of anything.
If a little hard work is a good thing, then a lot must be better, right? Then more and more must be even better? But someone who overworks finds that it takes a toll on the body, mind and spirit. Finding that sense of balance between work and play can be difficult.
On another note, t doesn’t make sense to go to an all-you-can-eat buffet and then try not to eat much. I know I tend to overeat at those places. A little tasty food is good, but too much of a good thing makes me feel bad.
What about other things?
Exercise is such a good thing. It’s difficult to find time, but it’s necessary. Sometimes it can fill a person’s life to the point where it becomes the most important thing. It is possible to overdo that too.
What about the mind?
Some people like staying connected on social media. Whether it’s the old-fashioned email or something like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., it can get excessive. How many of us have seen or been with someone at a lunch, dinner, party or other social function and that person is more concerned about communicating with people who aren’t even there? Might be nice to say hello to the person across the room.
Some is good, but more is not always better, in nearly all things. I think there is a Bible passage about there being “a time for all things.”
Maybe we should take a look and find some balance. I know I will.
Reach Eric Steinkopff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 580-482-1221 ext. 2072.