05 August 2012

What's Important?

I LUV the Olympics.
Contestants prepare for YEARS.
Preparing is HELL.
And there's no guarantee their preparations will amount to anything.
Slip, like Mckayla Maroney did, and it all goes up in smoke.

But they believe their work will make a difference.

I have lived a good life.
I work at a stressful job I love because I truly feel God is working with me...
I'm good at what I do and every now and then what I do has a good outcome.

I'm now 65 years old, and find myself looking around me analyzing...

Have I made a difference?

I went to Viet Nam and made myself a target in a slow-moving aircraft to protect a guy in a scout helicopter, thinking my work would make the world a better place.
Did that make a difference?

I fly at night.
I land a helicopter in the middle of a wire-surrounded intersection in darkness, hoping my skills may improve the lives of others.
Does that change anything?

And then I get into a discussion on Facebook that makes me realize I'm an idiot.
I'm taking risks others are unwilling to take.
I'm underpaid for the risks I'm taking.
And my values are stupid... others chuckle because I think "law" and "rules" are important.

I WILL retire in January.
And the only question is, "How many of my contemporaries will I still respect?" when I hang up my wings?
How many others honestly feel "principles" are important?



eiaftinfo said...

Evening Sir,

Read your post (up late watching the Mars landing) and kinda caught my breath. So, a couple thoughts.

On more than one occasion friends are alive because of chopper pilots were more than a little crazy - wether Dust Off, gunship or transport. You made a difference.

Those folks, dazed, in pain and praying for a chance to live another day certainly know you are anything but an idiot.

Principles do matter (of courese I know that in your heart of hearts you KNOW that) and people are alive today because of yours.


Gaffer said...

Principles are critical to our culture. Although few today might believe priciples are important we need the people who believe, they are the glue that holds us together as a society. Keep believing in yourself and your principles and you'll be able to enjoy your retirement.

ddf said...

I recently read an article about Jim Thorpe, "The Greatest Athlete of All Time". As I watch these highly trained men and women, I wonder how they will transition into productive lives. I am a few years behind you, but also looking at this next transition called retirement and often think about the decisions made, great and small. WE can not measure the impact. ...and for all FB and all of the anonymous computer philosophers, well, they will be thinking these same thoughts in a few short years. Wisdom takes time to grow.

Peter said...

There are quite a lot of us, actually. I suspect we're in the minority right now, but then, when you think about it, hasn't that always been the case? My war was an ocean, a continent and half a generation removed from yours, but it was fought for similar reasons, I guess. I can understand.

Consider the American Revolution. How many fought, how many 'sympathized', and how many just sat on the sidelines waiting to see who won? And when the USA became a reality, the first politicians tried to loot the public purse wholesale. Reminds one of today, doesn't it?

There have never been enough who cared about higher values. I guess in each generation, those of us who do will just have to keep on taking care of business.

John said...

Sounds like someone's having an Ecclesiastes moment. Just remember the last lines of that book; "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil."

Well Seasoned Fool said...

You lead by example and live by example. The world will think what they think. There is only one judge we answer to, at the end.

lotta joy said...

Our generation is at an end. During our years on the fire department, we were surrounded by those who felt as we did, that we were there to serve and accomplish our tasks. Others were there to collect their check.

After Joe retired, the incoming replacements were not of the attitude of serving and accomplishing their tasks - sometimes at the risk of their own lives.

The banner had been dropped in exchange for security: their own.

Immediately upon his retirement, whenever Joe would return to the stations, he knew he was no longer a part of his life, but merely a visitor - out of place.

I will be glad when you retire - YOU, not so much. It's a long time of mourning for the end of your beliefs and accomplishments that are not even a memory for those you leave behind.

We remind ourselves that 'when we were young' and we would watch the older commanders still in duty. Our thoughts were always "Get out of the way!"

Then, WE became the ones 'in the way'. But OUR replacements will not have our ethics. I doubt if they ever make a comeback.

Old NFO said...

I do... But then my life has MANY similarities to yours... Principles ARE important to me, and I've passed those thoughts on to my daughters, and they get it!

Ed Bonderenka said...

I cannot imagine retiring.
I would be so Booooored.
But then I won't have the money to do anything BUT work.

I once directed tractors to clear snow for a landing place in an intersection for Marine One so they could give me a ride out of there.
The pilot landed in a field next to the intersection. I asked why.
He pointed to the wires.
I'm glad he knew what HE was doing.

Anonymous said...

I have read your blog for quite some time. I am a few years younger but for the past 10 or so years have come to the conclusion that the present generation has very little use for morals or ethics. Far to many think success is a job that produces nothing of value, they act like nomes. I am continually amazed at the power of social media and the lack of free thinking, far too many followers and very few leaders. I appreciate your service to the nation that did not welcome you home so many years ago, but i also know the people you have saved feel far differently. I hope you have a rewarding and long retirement. P.S. never act older than you want to be.

cary said...

For what it's worth, you have made a difference in MY life. Not as a pilot, but as a friend. I hope you never get the chance to make a difference in my life as an EMS pilot.

OlePrairiedog said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
OlePrairiedog said...

Retirement is like the song, "go where you want to go, Do what you want to do". Be ever so proud of what you did, it was a good job, we paid our way. We paid our wages, we earned the respect. If some one disagrees, Scre'em, Bro, I got your back"

Terry said...

Did you make a difference? I wonder that my self. Each day I wake up. I have a direction to go. Someone has sent me on this mission and it COULD of changed each day. But the reason will never be known, except for some reason someone tells me to go left then right. I do know I have made a difference in some people lives. For that I smile. And for you my friend, you have made a difference in my life. Besides a great friend and brother, I am a Helicopter Pilot.

Ed Bonderenka said...

Feel better now?

Greybeard said...

Thanks everyone.
Yes, I've resolved the issue in my head.

I've got to learn to keep my mouth shut.
Few care.
Even fewer want to think about what the future may hold.

(Headed now to search for a Propane-powered Honda generator.)

The Old Man said...

Brother, I'm scheduling my retirement now. Pulling the pin on 31Dec12. Boss Lady did it last year. We'll be fine. So will you and SJ. Maybe meet up again as old(er) farts. YOU'll be fine. Not so sure about our government....