Sunday, July 27, 2008

Clear Your Mind of Can't

On my refrigerator door is a note pad that says “Clear Your Mind Of Can’t”. Granted it’s easier said than done but it’s a good thing to file away in your noggin, you may never know when it will come in handy.

The Battle of Britain is one of those uneven battles I mentioned that I would speak of, and I will
but not just now. One of the insanely courageous men who fought in that battle is my focus at the moment. His name was Wing Commander Douglas Bader. I may be related to him (my mother says yes, my aunt says no) . For those of you not raised in England, Bader was quite a prominent name in that famous struggle for air supremacy over Great Britain. But only because he cleared his mind of “Can’t”.

Young Douglas was in the Royal Air Force before the war but there was a plane crash, in 1931, that almost cost him his life… and did cost him his legs. That would have been that for most people, but Bader, instead of choosing to get around in a wheelchair, a walker or even a cane, he chose a Supermarine Spitfire, the finest fighter in the air at the time and he proceeded to procure one. By 1939 he was back in the air as a fighter pilot and then promoted to command. He was shot down in 1941 and as a POW made several escape attempts. In 1976 he was knighted and then on into legend.

If someone tells you “It can’t be done”, it just means that they can’t do it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Let's start this baby up!

One of the sayings that I live my life by is one I made up myself.
“No one knows everything but everyone knows something. Everyone has something to learn, everyone has something to teach.”

I never look down my nose at anyone because I am aware that they know things I don’t. Are those things important? Who’s to say? Is a single nail important? For want of a single nail a horse shoe comes off and renders a single horse lame. That horse would have made the difference in a battle, if that battle is crucial, it could mean losing the war. Looked at in such a way, that single nails importance becomes monumental!
I’m afraid I have a fascination for history, military history in particular, and to narrow it down even further those engagements where the odds are stacked brutally to one side. In many of those cases the underdog became the top dog through ingenuity, a keen understanding and a boatload of courage. For those who shy away or yawn at stories in uniform, remember it’s people who wear those uniforms and it is their character that can make a situation an abomination or a mercy. I told my friend Karen, who has no interest in history or the military, the story of the beleaguered B-17 bomber called Ye Olde Pub and a lone, compassionate, German fighter pilot. At tales end, she smiled and said, “I like that story!”.

Knowing their strengths, realizing their limitations, recognizing and exploiting
both in whatever person or force of nature assailed them.
That is what made these “underdogs” examples to be held up.

Now not all my tales will be of wars and battles, I have a fondness for the Old West as well. Not all my tales will be of people. There are things that have been judged inferior that rose far above that classification. I will speak of Great Britain quite at bit, not just because I was born in England, but because the UK so often finds itself in the category of uneven conflicts. As my friend Mark said once, “The British cannot win a battle unless they are grossly outnumbered.”

Well, to quote the Disneyland ride, Pirates of the Caribbean,
“Properly warned be ye says I”.