02 April 2009

It's Called Life.

The telephone rang and I answered. My friend said, "Tomorrow I'm going to join the Navy Reserve. Why don't you join with me?
A weekend a month and two weeks during the summer, and we don't have to worry about being drafted."
"Tomorrow? Man, couldn't you have given me a little more time to cogitate this?"

The "Delayed Entry Program"...
It allowed you to join and drill during your Senior year in High School, then attend "Boot Camp" after graduating. This extra year counted toward pay and promotions... it was tempting.
He went downtown the next day and joined. For whatever reason it just didn't feel right for me and I didn't act. And by not acting, options I could not have imagined would be available to me later.

I often think about the little decisions we make in our lives and how a seemingly simple decision ends up making a major change...
How a decision of no discernible import can have consequences no one could have foreseen...
How some of those decisions are forced upon us as adolescents, when we're ill-equipped with the knowledge to make an informed choice.

Aviators learn there generally is a "chain of events" leading to an accident. Reviewing "links" leading to a serious or fatal accident we can see how poor judgment and decision making lead to a sad outcome.

But all our lives are filled with these "events" that are little decisions we make along the way...
Something we say, or don't say...
Something we do, or choose not to do...
A decision we put off, for whatever reason, because we're just not comfortable taking that risk on that day.

I'm now in my 23rd year flying a helicopter ambulance. In those years I've lifted over 13,000 human beings... many of them having the worst day of their lives. Don't take me wrong now, I don't think I'm anything really special...
There are several hundred others doing this same job in airplanes, helicopters, and trucks all over the world. But I, and all those others, have played an important part in the lives of those sick and injured folks we have transported, and I wonder...
Wouldn't it be interesting to be like Jimmy Stewart's "George Bailey" character in "It's a Wonderful Life" and go back to see how life would have changed had I joined the Navy Reserve with my buddy?

How would life's "chain of events" unfold?
Where's that rewind button?

4 comments:

OlePrairiedog said...

I call it my "Golden Book of Shouldas, Couldas, Wouldas"

cj said...

I'm with the OlePrairiedog - woulda, shoulda, coulda...

As a human, we will always wonder, won't we?

cjh

Cissy Apple said...

Hey, I do the same thing. When something of note happens, I dig up all those things, especially the ones I was responsible for, to link all those seemingly unimportant events to the "big bang". My worst is when I talked my co-worker in continuing to date an old friend of hers to see where it would lead. She did...and she married him. A good outcome? Not so fast. I'll have to write this one up

Jack said...

slightly off topic, but thought you might be interested in this.

Michael Yon (a must read) posts today a Joseph Galloway article: Vanished Soldiers: American Heroes Come Home about the recent discovery/recovery of Huey 808 in Vietnam.