I’ve never been great at anything. Maybe, in the perfect world of my mind, I can reach that lofty plateau. It’s something to strive for and hope to attain. However, at my age, I’m just happy to walk down the stairs in the morning.
I thought I was great at eating cereal when I was a teenager…3 bowls a day of Coco Krispies, Fruit Loops and Raisin Bran. Alas, I was just hoped-up on sugar; but at least I got my daily dose of calcium. In high school, I was really good at History Jeopardy, but not great. Later on, I thought I might be great because I was flying F-14s for the Navy. Then I realized we had 20 squadrons flying those beasts and we all can’t be great. When I got selected to go to TOPGUN, I was pretty sure I was close to greatness…then Woody and I got our asses handed to us for 5 weeks, flying against the Best of the Best. We did get much better, but we weren’t great.
I wonder, aloud sometimes (freaks out my kids), if greatness is an ideal, like perfection. Then I think: “No, it can be attained, just on a personal level.” You can think you’re great or someone else can think you’re great, right? Nobody ever thinks I’m perfect, not even Thunderball. I often hope that my kids think I’m ‘great’, but I’m Dad; someone to complain to and borrow money from. But ‘Great’? Maybe…just once?
I remember having a beer with my buddies at the Miramar Officer’s Club back in ’86. We had just come back from our first deployment overseas and we thought we were something else. We knew it all…just ask us!! Our Air Wing Commander wandered over to the group. We thought he was great because he had been flying for 20 years…did the whole Vietnam thing. A true warrior. He was small and quiet. We, of course, made lots of noise, checked out the chicks, laughed at everything and goofed on everyone. He just smiled at our buffoonery and told us, “Guys, you’ll never have more fun than in your first squadron. It is the best of times. You’ll look back and think it’s great!”
Hmmmm…CAG was right! It was great! I loved being around Boog, Bush, Mouth, and Barrel. Donut, Goose, Woody, Billy Bear, Stout, Flex and Hose. Even Wizard! My time as a Freelancer was GREAT!!
We’ve moved on, obviously. Boog and Stout have passed; the rest of us are lucky to still be kicking, and hopefully respectful of our time together. I know I am.
Sooo, maybe, I was ‘great’…if only for a short time. I’ll take that!