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The course you take in life is largely determined by how much trouble you are willing to get in along the way. Depending on your outlook, the road ahead may be slow and smooth, or fast and bumpy.

If you are immune to danger, you will lead a life of reckless abandon complete with higher peaks and deeper valleys. Aviators are like that.

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If you are like me, however, risk aversion is part of your make-up and one of the worst things that can happen to you is to find yourself in trouble.

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I suspect that most people are somewhere in between. They enjoy pushing the envelope, but not so far as to get themselves in real hot water.

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It doesn’t always work out that way. The military is a young person’s game, and young people can make mistakes. When that happens, they get in trouble.

The worst chewing out I ever received was by an Executive Officer at a training command, who, after listening to my excuse as to why I failed to report for muster the day after Thanksgiving (I told him someone told me I didn’t have to), said to me, “HORSE S***!!!!” For the next ten minutes I listened to an unending stream of profanity, reasons I would never make it and ways he was going to make my life miserable. My legs were literally shaking when I left his office.

I didn’t miss another muster for the next twenty-five years of service.

Quite frankly, punishment was harsher in the old days. Shipboard leadership took greater liberties in delivering the consequences of inappropriate behavior.

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In many cases, the informal counseling was done by senior enlisted personnel. Officers were not expected to get involved.

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Which was fine by me, since I had my hands full avoiding my own troubles.

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Besides, you never know who packs your parachute.

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Today I lead a wiser life, but only because I made mistakes along the way. Maybe that is part of life. Maybe that is what fills out our personalities and gives us character.

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Some people can probably do with a little less character.


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