“Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience! One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, “You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!” “How in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb. “I packed your parachute,” the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, “I guess it worked!” Plumb assured him, “It sure did. If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.” Plumb couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, “I kept wondering what he had looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat; a bib in the back; and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said ‘Good morning, how are you?’ or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor.” Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent at a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn’t know.”
Charles Plumb shares that we each need to ask ourselves “Who’s packing your parachute?”
In our lives we all have people who help pack our physical parachutes, our mental parachutes, our emotional parachutes, and our spiritual parachutes…Yet sometimes we fail to recognize these people – we sometimes don’t even notice their contributions and as a result we overlook thanking them.
All of us should do better at asking ourselves who’s packing our parachutes in our lives on a regular basis so we stay aware of who these people are and we express our gratitude to them for what they have done.
Another thought that came to me tonight as I thought about all the amazing people that have helped pack my parachutes the thought came to me that it is likely impossible to really know every person who has helped pack our parachutes, so perhaps the best way to make sure we don’t ever fail to appreciate them is to decide to treat everyone we meet as if they are someone who helped pack our parachutes by doing things like saying hello and smiling at everyone, by saying please and thank you to everyone, by complimenting everyone and congratulating everyone on their accomplishments. That seems like the best way to make sure that we never miss out on the opportunity to appreciate those who have packed our parachutes along the way.
On that note I want to say thank you to all of you for taking time out of your days to read my blogs and share things with me. So many of you have lifted me up on my down days and encouraged me at times I was struggling and just knowing you are reading gives me motivation to keep sharing the things that have impacted my life…if it wasn’t for you reading these I would never have had the motivation to keep writing each day and I would never remember all the amazing lessons and blessings that have been documented in my blogs, so thank you, thank you, thank you!
~Amy Rees Anderson