Monday, December 26, 2011

Do you know who packs your parachute?

I was channel surfing recently and caught one of Joel Osteen's sermons (my girlfriend, Tanya, is a fan).  I'm not religious, unless you consider Ignosticism a religion, but his message in this one sermon was one that people of any faith, or no faith, can and should use in their lives everyday.

Fighter pilot.  He gets shot down in Vietnam.  His plane is half blown apart but somehow he ejects, deploys his parachute, and floats down into the jungle, where he is quickly captured.  Becomes a POW for 5 years or so.  Comes home.  Many years pass by.  He's at a diner with his wife.  A man walks up to him.  He calls the pilot out by name.  The pilot does not recognize him.  The man says his name and says, "I'm the seaman that packed your parachute on the carrier." 

They chat for a while, pilot goes home.  He's bothered by this.  How could he not recognize this guy?  Or remember his name?  He'd walked past him 100 times or more, and never even bothered to commit the boy's name into his memory? 

From there, Joel took it to the next level.

You don't always see them.  You don't always know they're there, or even what they are doing, but there are people doing things, often behind the scenes, that are making your life better.  They are doing things to help you, to promote you to some higher place.  Do you know who's packing your parachute?  Do you have any idea?  How meticulous did each fold and twist have to be on the pilot's parachute in order for it to deploy properly?  (I've jumped twice and on the first one, I got to see some guys in a hangar packing parachutes and it's like a surgery).  How did that one man's actions for another that he didn't know allow for the pilot to make it home?  For the pilot to live many happy years, right up to that moment in the diner with his beloved wife? 

When I started thinking about, my head just about imploded.  Until then, I didn't realize how many people had helped me.  How many people whose name tags I hadn't bothered to commit to memory.  Not the obvious ones, like my girlfriend, who has supported my every decision and need.  Or my sister Kelley, who has stood behind me when others would not, because she knows that I have a good heart and I want the best for people and because we have a relationship that cannot be broken by anything or anyone (feel free to try; oh, Kev has THAT kind of confidence it it?  Indeedy).  Not people like Joann, who not only lit a fire under my butt to make me finish my first three novels but who has shown up time and time again when I was at my lowest and weakest to help the pain go away.  Not people like my friends Shane, Jan, Jennifer, Claudia, or so many others who have reached out a hand and said to me, "Kevin, I will help you.  I will help you."  Those are the obvious ones.  Those are the ones I give thanks for every single day.  Those are the ones I OWE, no matter who among them might say that I owe them nothing.

But do you know everybody who's packing your parachute?

How about the check-out lady at the grocery store who notices that a package has been opened and asks if you'd like to go get another.  How do you know she didn't just save your life?  How about the guy that noticed that you left your car door open with it stock-full of gifts you just bought for your family and kindly shuts it to lower the chances of theft.  You never knew about him.  You can't thank him. 

Do you know who's packing your parachute?

The police arrest a known murderer who's walking past your house, looking for some house to break into to get some food and maybe some money to continue on his spree.  The mechanic that fixed your car went ahead and put in new spark plugs without charging you and didn't mention it, because he knew you were hurting for money and he couldn't fathom the thought of you stuck somewhere on some lonely night.  The janitors that clean your office at night and sprinkle some baking soda into the bottom of the can because you once requested it and they never forgot.  The stranger that gets out of his car on a dangerous curve in the road to remove the fallen tree that probably would have killed somebody.  The nurse that noticed you were about to be given a toxic combination of medication and stopped it at the very last moment.

Do you have any idea at all who's packing your parachute?  My hope, as was Joel's and the pilot's, is that you figure out who they are.  All of them.  And go out of your way to recognize them.

I know some of them, but not all.  This blog would have to go ultra-viral for me to possibly even be able to thank a majority of them, but for what it's worth, for all who have helped to pack anybody's parachute without needing recognition, I see you now.  I see you in my heart, and you will be in my heart from now until I die.

Thank you.

Kevin A. Kierstead
Skydive survivor

No comments:

Post a Comment