Ducking the Flinch; or, Are Parachutes Necessary?

Dad in AlaskaMy father was of the impression you didn’t have to meet trouble halfway; it was more than glad to make the entire trip. Some guy recommends stepping into an icy shower every morning in order to train yourself not to flinch so life won’t be so hard. My father would have said stop jumping into icy showers and maybe your life wouldn’t be so hard.

The last few years before he married my mom he was in the Air Force in Alaska. He had an issue with parachutes, especially people who used them for fun. Who jumps out of a perfectly good airplane? Besides, he’d known two guys who jumped without a chute. Not on purpose, of course. One actually had a chute, it just didn’t open. Scrapes and cuts as he plowed through the branches of a bare tree and into 20′ of snow he had to burrow out of. Other guy, tail gunner on some big plane where you left your chute just outside the door or you didn’t have room to move: huge jarring jolt made him think it was time to put his chute on, but when he opened the door there was nothing there. No chute. No plane. Just icy air over the Bering Sea. Thinking it better to hit the water alone than in a tangled mass of scrap metal and glass, he jumped. Managed to land feet first. Broke both ankles.

So Dad wasn’t much for jumping if you didn’t have to, and even had evidence that if you did it right, the parachute wasn’t critical to the process.

He thought maybe if you spent more time preparing to do good stuff and less time preparing to avoid bad stuff, you might have more of one and less of the other.

And if you keep your head up and your eye clear, you can see trouble coming, and when it knocks on the front door you’ll already be slipping out the back.

Once the right story occurs to me manners may prevent it issuing from my mouth but no force can stay it from running its course in my brain.

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