Recently, I was involved in what's known as a "near miss" in aviation. I still don't understand what this means since it was ACTUALLY a miss. A near miss sounds more like a collision to me. Either way, that's what it's called.
We were flying in a Cessna 206 and doing maneuvers at around 1500 - 2000 ft above ground level. There were four of us in the plane and I was in the front right seat. Since we were paying attention to the ground for these particular maneuvers, we weren't really looking around for traffic. Our pilot was looking for traffic, and, reporting our position on a general frequency so others would know as well. However, he couldn't see everything. I didn't see the other plane until it went UNDER us by about 50-100 ft. In the world of aviation, that's pretty close.
After the incident, I didn't think much about it. I got over it and kept doing my job. That evening, and now today (the next day), I thought about it a lot more.
For about the past 10-12 years of my life I've been working very hard. At some point I realized I pretty much wasted my 20s and just worked. Sure, I was in the Navy and contributed that way, but when I came home I focused on selfish activities that didn't even really improve me, let alone anyone else.
Now, though, I'm more interested in doing things that help others as well. Part of the reason for this is that I don't believe in an afterlife. If there IS an afterlife I certainly wouldn't be able to help anyone in this world anyway. So, I try to do things that not only satisfy myself, but, can be a benefit to anyone else. In recent years, this imperative has become much more real and much more important to me.
Over the last four years I've seen several people die WAY too early. They never even saw it coming and they weren't ready for it. I've seen relatives die, some old, some not, and I've heard of others that died way too young and without warning or preparation. At 40, soon to be 41, I figure I'm on borrowed time. Sure, I might live until 80, but, there is certainly no guarantee of that and no way to prevent accidents caused by others. So, I do the best I can to be helpful and to contribute to the greater good.
Being a Good Citizen
I've got some friends, and some really close friends, that are die-hard Bernie Sanders supporters. I myself am one. Bernie is known for being a Democratic Socialist. The basic idea here is that we do things for the greater good. We do things that help and benefit not just ourselves but our communities as well. These friends go out and vote, they do some things in their communities, and they also tell me that I'm going to die if I don't slow down.
How can I slow down when there is so much to do? What if I'd have died yesterday in a fiery plane crash with so many projects left unfinished? That thought, much more than death, scares the crap out of me.
To me, "being a good citizen" means that I contribute my skills and abilities to the greater good. First, I had to find out what I'm good at, or at least passionate about. Now that I've figured that out, I want to share what I can with others. There isn't really an end point or goal in mind. I just want to keep doing what I'm doing for as long as I can. I'll probably stop when I get cancer and have six months to live. That's when I'll pull off my complicated, high-tech, art heist with a team of professionals. It's really the only thing on my "bucket list".
What's the Point of All This?
I guess my point here is that I'm right. Ha! No, really. That "near miss" was just one more wake-up call in a series of wake-up calls over the last few years. Sometimes you need that sort of thing to wake you up and get you moving again. I hope you're happy doing what you're doing. If you're not, change it. There's no time to waste. You likely won't live until retirement, or at least, live like you won't. Do at least one thing in your life that benefits someone else. If we all did that, the world would be a pretty amazing place.
Thanks for reading and I'll see you in the field!!