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 six 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 that chute you packed 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.
When Plumb delivers one of his lectures, he includes this story. After telling the story Plumb asks his audience, “Who's packing your parachute?”
He states that everyone has someone who provides what he or she needs to make it through the day. He also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory - he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety.
Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, pay a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason. As you go through this week, this month, this year and next years, recognize people who “pack your parachute.”
I am sending you this as my way of thanking you for your part in packing my parachute.
Sometimes, we wonder why friends keep forwarding jokes to us without writing a word. Maybe this could explain it — when you are very busy, but still want to keep in touch, guess what you do — you forward jokes and anecdotes.
A friend may let you know that you are still remembered; that you are still important; that you are still loved; that you are still cared for. And, guess how that might happen — with a forwarded joke, or a short note of hello.
So, next time when you get that forwarded joke or short note, don't think that you've just been sent something without caring. Instead, know that you've been thought of today and your friend on the other end of your computer wanted to send you a smile—just helping you “pack your parachute” that day.
“Never stop doing your best just because someone doesn’t give you credit. - H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Whatever the activity in which you engage, do it with all your ability… Ecclesiastes 9:10 ISV
Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. Luke 6:31 NASB
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4 ESV