Hamlet And The Art of Thinking

Joe - Hatboro, Pennsylvania
Entered on November 12, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I have the best job in the world. At least, I believe I have the best job. And when we come right down to it, belief is what drives life, because belief drives perception, and perception drives self-regard; and together, these things play a large part in crafting our lives as well as making sense of our memories.

I believe I have the best job in the world, at least, for the next ten months. In ten months, I will retire from the best job in the world. Hamlet said (or rather, Shakespeare had Hamlet say) “There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Hamlet had a pretty good gig, as well. Of course, by the time he uttered this line, it had all gone south for him. At least, he thought it had. Hamlet’s thinking drove him to a bad end.

My own end—from this great job—will come with less tumult than Prince Hamlet’s end. There will be no poison, no bare blades and no treachery unmasked. I’ll probably have a party or two. My employer, or one of my employer’s surrogates, will present me with a memento in recognition of well more than half my existence spent risking much in the service of others. I believe I will accept graciously. After all, it’s been a great run at this job of jobs. Of course, we all know what Hamlet got. He had an ironic end to his career—and no parting gift.

“Career” is really too small a word to use when I speak of this job. But I believe that “avocation” might be too large a word. So then, how should I refer to these several decades spent? I could say, “it’s been a hoot,” and it has—sometimes. I could say, “ it’s been devastating.” Sometimes it has been that, and more than that. I could say, “it’s been rewarding, depressing, exciting, alarming; how long should I go on? I believe I will never be able to fully express the million perceptions this job has injected into my veins. I will miss even the worst of them, because the roundness of these experiences has formed my perception of this career…and of myself. Because, there is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so—believing makes it so.

Over the past thirty-one years, I’ve witnessed life and death, pleasure and pain, success and failure. Oh, the failures. I have saved some lives…I mean really, saved some lives. But there are many more I failed to save. Balance, you see, is not part of the best job on the world. I think I have come to terms with this lack of justice. That (I’ve been told by others who’ve gone before me) defines a good career, defines a good retirement.

So, when I “suit up” for the last time, when I gird myself for one last battle-royal and secure my weapons of necessity—those things that, in one narrow sense, have come to define me, define my perceptions—it will be with a vision of some good accomplished and most bad, but not all bad, averted. I will know that, for me, having been a cop has been the best job in the world, and thinking made it so,