Colbie discovers why she studies human behaviour
By June, the scar receded significantly, and it was time to decide on a different career. She put it off as long as she could, and leaving the force proved more difficult than anticipated. No matter how she tried to figure out her next steps, Colbie couldn’t motivate herself to dive into something new—and, it wasn’t until she was rifling through her mom’s hope chest looking for the pocket knife her dad gave her when she turned twelve that she discovered the direction she must take.
A small box nestled among two sweaters and a wool blanket appeared untouched—clearly, it was placed there for safekeeping for its corners were pristine, and original packing tape secured the top.
Usually, her mom labeled the crap out of everything she wanted to keep as mementos. Items of a practical nature were different, each tagged with pertinent information—when and where it was purchased, as well as how long it was used. Her mom’s need to organize and label everything bordered on obsession—but, the hope chest wasn’t large so only items of import made it into the cedar-lined box. The small package, however, didn’t have her mom’s illegible scrawl, providing nothing to indicate its contents.
The pocket knife was exactly where Colbie thought it would be—in its case crammed in the lower left corner of the chest. After testing its blade on a stray piece of paper, she carefully sliced the clear tape, careful not to damage the package’s contents. The cardboard yielded to a gentle tug as she carefully opened the flaps—there lay the drawings Colbie sketched as a child, free of creases and each separated by thin, parchment-like paper. Seventeen in all, perfectly preserved.
Her drawings of scarred trees and their individual rejuvenation transported her back to her youth, once again filling her with feelings of inferiority. Ever since she was a little girl, Colbie noticed things others didn’t see or, perhaps, acknowledge. On family camping trips, she spent hours perched on a log or curled up in a lawn chair, sketching anything that piqued her interest—lightning-scarred trees in particular— examining them with a detailed eye, noting the depth and extent of damage. New growth encircled the scars, allowing the trees to adapt to their new conditions, no two alike.
Witnessing such regeneration was intriguing when she was young, and she gave little thought as to why she was so enamored with recognizing trauma and healing—back then it was just cool. As an adult, she marveled at the fact that nature created beauty amid such distress, always flexing to accommodate its new reality.
Perspective according to age.
Truth was Colbie’s classmates considered her a little—odd—as she progressed through school, and she never felt as if she fit in. Her brother was the one who got the goods—quick witted, charming, and good looking—including their mother’s favor. Her mother treated him as the golden child, showering him with devotion while offering little in the way of discipline. Girls in Colbie’s class feigned friendship with her as a path to his highness, hoping for a glimmer of attention and a possible date. But it didn’t take Colbie long to figure out their intentions, and she soon retreated into herself, considering herself lucky to have any friends at all.
By nature, she was rebellious and, in her world, she endured constant criticism. She laughed too loud. Sang off key. Talked too much. No matter what she did, there was always something to irritate those around her and she felt as if she could never achieve a perfect balance. She was good at sports, but not an all- star—the harder she tried, the more she blended in rather than standing apart. As she matured, she practiced fading into the background, observing rather than participating, becoming nearly invisible in the crowded high school hallways. No one noticed her, and she found she could adapt to an apparition- like existence on command, enjoying the anonymity it provided. Other times, she felt lost in the shadow world of her own creation.
It was sometime during her sophomore year when she realized she could recognize the shadow world in others—without considering age, Colbie quickly discerned the behavior and decision making of those around her. Psychics claiming to foresee the future fascinated her, as well as illusionists who created thoughts and environments they wanted others to see. Her world bloomed and she felt, for the first time, that she belonged and it wasn’t until she studied hypnosis, mentalism, and forensic profiling toward the end of her police career that she began appreciating and respecting her ability to ‘feel’ what was important to others. The need to navigate conflicts led to her polishing the craft she developed during youth while understanding her unique perspectives of the human spirit—and, through her curiosity, she created her own body of knowledge.
The tree drawings solidified what she already knew but refused to acknowledge—her life was now and always had been about reading others. Profiling behavior. Anticipating actions. It was deep in her soul, and no matter how she tried to reject it, it always appeared as a comfort in her life. Class instructors at the Department veiled the art of reading people as something mystical and complicated, but Colbie understood they, as well as her colleagues, didn’t appreciate that people were the sole reason they had their jobs. Without people’s behavior, abhorrent or otherwise, every police officer would have little to do.
Regardless of the claims by her instructors, Colbie realized that in the real world there were two compelling needs driving people: a desire to belong, and a desire for significance. She understood the soul craves a community, and with that understanding came the belief that once we have a place to belong, we need to believe we can influence something. We need to make our own decisions, be in charge of something, or be important to a cause. Each reflects our need for significance.
And, so, it was a forgotten box filled with drawings of trees that inspired Colbie Colleen to immerse herself in her new life’s path.
Psychology specializing in human behavior.