Tonight, I spent the evening listening to retired fighter pilots share stories of their service. I’ve been so fortunate to have this experience many times over the last few years and it never gets old.
From the beginning, it struck me that, almost to a man, these folks are nothing like the stubborn, cocky, headstrong characters shown in most Hollywood films.
Confident and self-assured? Yes. Irreverent and funny? Absolutely. Characters of the first order? In their own way, almost every one.
Arrogant and self-absorbed? Never.
The serious stories are told with genuine reverence for their peers, their mission and their craft. The light-hearted stories are told with a heartfelt twinkle in their eyes and a childlike glee that is always mindful and present, but never sappy or nostalgic.
They understand they are gatekeepers of an important oral history and they take on that role with a passion and honesty that is wonderful to witness.
On nights like this, I remember why I became a storyteller and I smile.
Thanks to Neil Henderson for opening this particular door for me.