Before I became a cop, I was a graduate student at McMaster University. My studies were going well. I was on track to complete a doctorate. Academia was my future. Teaching and research loomed. I enjoyed the teaching part. Less so the research, because the ultimate goal was to write obscure, footnote laden articles and books which only a handful of people would ever read.
As the months ticked by, and I got closer and closer to finishing a Ph.D., my inner voice intervened. What began as a gentle whisper became a fierce scream. My inner voice reminded me that I was studying Canadian history and was about to make that my profession, but, I wasn’t passionate about it. At the end of a day of studying or writing, I would never pick up a book about Canadian history and read it simply because it interested me. The fire had been extinguished – if it had ever existed in the first place.
There was a raging fire though. I’d wanted to be a cop for as long as I could remember. As I came closer and closer to finishing my studies, and my 30th birthday loomed, I realized it was now or never. Go after the thing I really wanted, or continue along the path I was on.
I went for it. My friends and fellow students at McMaster were shocked. They had no idea – none – that another side of me existed. They had no more envisioned me as a cop, than as the Easter Bunny.
My family was with me all the way. They knew what I’d always wanted. They encouraged me to chase my dream.
Maybe it runs in the family. My dad began his working life as a steelworker in Hamilton, Ontario, working grueling shifts under the inferno of a blast furnace. He wanted more than that. He enrolled in teacher’s college, studying at McMaster decades before I arrived there. He went on to teach elementary school for years. And then his inner voice became another inferno. He felt called by God to become a minister. Teaching had gone well. He was on track to be a principal, to have a successful career, and a secure pension. Instead, he listened to his inner voice. He was true to himself. And he and my mom sacrificed as a result. For three years my dad had two homes, spending his weekdays at Knox College in Toronto, and his weekends with me, my mom and my brother in a small town in Ontario where he served as a minister at two rural churches. My mom and dad must have spent those three years physically and mentally exhausted. And now, 45 years later, as he nears his 80th birthday, my dad is still a minister, preaching on Easter Sunday, the most sacred day of his year, my mom at his side.
Some of the strongest memories of my childhood center around Easter weekend. There was chocolate of course. An avalanche of chocolate, coloured eggs, and hot-cross buns. But I also remember the rhythm of that weekend. Good Friday was a solemn day. A day of great sadness. I remember how draining that day always was for my mother and father. Saturday was anticipation. Sunday – Easter Sunday, was joy and celebration. Those memories are forty years old. Yet the emotions they conjure in me are as real as the glee I saw in my daughter’s face this morning as she hunted for Easter eggs.
Easter weekend remains an incredibly special, even spiritual time for me. It is always a time for reflection.
Yesterday, as I ran near our home, over a bridge, I saw water flowing gently on one side, and raging on the other. Underneath the bridge was a transition point, where smooth water began to churn. That water reminded me of the inner voice, how it is always flowing within us, and how sometimes it becomes so strong it’s impossible for us to ignore.