And, according to some of my old Navy pilot buddies, “None of us are getting out alive!”
If there were a group of humans who possess an almost morbidly comedic viewpoint of death, it would be Navy carrier pilots. Only carrier pilots could live by the motto, “Die young and leave a good-looking corpse.”
The bravado and moxie of Naval Aviators truly stand out no better than when the operations officer or XO taps someone in the ready room to be an emergency tanker pilot on the proverbial dark and stormy night. On his way to man-up the jet, one after another of his squadronmates would start asking those questions. They would start out rather weak and become progressively worse.
“Hey, man, can I have your stereo if you don’t make it back?”
“Hey! Dibs on your TV.”
“I want your music collection.”
“Has anyone called dibs on the VCR?”
“Dude, can I have your car when we get back?”
Then it starts to get rough.
“I like your dog, and he likes me. Can I have your dog?”
“Man, can I have your girl friend?”
It is all in fun, even if it is deadly serious business; good-natured ribbing if you will, in the nature of telling an actor to “break a leg” on opening night.
Only there is a big difference between an opening night and launching off the pointy end of a carrier pitching and rolling far out at sea on a stormy, dark night. An actor could possibly break a leg on the opening night of a play; the fate of the Navy pilot could be a great deal worse.
Out there at sea, there was one thing we knew. We were truly were in “this” all together. “This,” of course, is this thing we call life. And as some have said, not one of us will get out alive.
Sometimes you might think about it. But you would never dwell on it too long. If you were to do that, you might become dysfunctional.
As humans, we take chances every day. Just getting out of bed could be risky, especially if you have a cat. Could you imagine waking to a beautiful day, sitting up, and then stepping on the cat’s tail as you got up? In a reaction, you might jerk, stumble, and fall, cracking your noggin in the process. Not a cool way to go, so to speak. Better to go out at Mach 1+, than to land face down in the cat’s litter box.
We have no idea as how we are going to leave this existence. We don’t know how much time we may have remaining or how the end will come. If you are like most, however, more than likely you have given some thought to the end.
I have told my students that I ascribe to the idea of pre-destiny. I believe there is a day in my future that is the day I will be “checking out,” regardless of what I am doing. In other words, I might be flying a plane, driving down the road, taking a walk, writing, or simply sleeping.
I sort of like that last option the best.
©2010 J. Clark