Thirty- one years ago, I landed at Clark Air Base in the Philippines and met a character from Philly. Little did I know then that this jacka$$ would become more than just a friend, he became my brother. That character from Philadelphia was the one and only Bill Bowers, the author of Nighthawk. I always knew one of us would write a book, and low and behold, he did it—surprisingly it was NOT a comic book! I am not only proud of his accomplishment; but also thrilled that our signature creation- Jeepney Surfing got its own chapter.
A Lot Alike
If you have read the book, you already know Bill and I are a lot alike; although, I am the much better-looking version. If not, pick up a copy and turn to page 147. We were two kids filled with boundless energy, fueled by a desire to take risks, experience life to the fullest and perhaps find some sort of purpose. Who am I kidding? Any kind of purpose was something for amateurs; Bill and I were born to listen to that little voice inside telling us we shouldn’t and proving that voice wrong.
“If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it. It’s much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.” Grace Hopper
To some, I am sure some of our ideas were nerve racking as we continually found ourselves twisting and turning dangerously near the edge, but that was part of the fun. Once we made any leap, our thirst for fun and adventure grew. Like sponges, we soaked up everything would could in the name of fun. We never feared a point of no return; we just relied on luck and each other and never looked back.
“True friendship isn’t about being inseparable, it’s being separated and nothing changes.” unknown
Times change. People change. Life moves on and the miles between friends seems to constantly grow. The truth is, miles can’t shake something as sturdy as our friendship. Though distance separates Bill and I, we are still very much involved in each other’s lives. We text each other daily about everything from his crappy Philadelphia Yardbirds stacking up against America’s Real Team the Patriots, to what is going on in each other’s lives and our families lives.
State lines may prevent us from seeing each other as often as we would like; but, they are just mere obstacles for us to overcome. Only a fragile, weak, or half-hearted friendship would let a circumstance like a different area code destroy it. We make it a point to meet up as often as our schedules allow. And at least once a year, we meet up with our other brothers and sisters from the 3rd SPG for a reunion. I would offer a small anecdote from our many meetings; however, it is probably best if I omit our hijinks here in this forum. Read the book and you will get a sense of what I mean. However, I would highly recommend pulling up a chair in real life and let’s see where the discussion leads.
“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.” Bernard Meltzer
Over the years, I have learned another way in which Bill and I are the same. We both are true and authentic to ourselves. I know you just gasped, I did when I wrote it. Then I thought, what does that even mean? Well, being our true authentic self is a constant, ongoing event. With every day that we grow, learn and live, we have the choice to listen to that little voice inside telling us who we really are. Not who we are told to be, not who we are expected to be, not even who we think we are supposed to be. But who we really are. To truly live life to the fullest, we must listen to that voice and become who we really are.
“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” Marcus Aurelius
We both seem to always move forward despite our fears and doubts. Fears and doubts can come at any time for any situation. And for most, they get stuck indefinitely. Bill and I take a different approach- we take a deep breath and we can jump anyways. Life can be scary as hell. No one can say it isn’t. But if we are going to make the most of this life we need to push through.
If you take anything away from this, live for you! Now, I don’t mean for you to be heartless, selfish and only think of yourself. No. I mean that this is your life. And you are the author of it. You get to decide what it is going to look like. You get to choose how you want to be remembered. Whether it is hiking, traveling, Jeepney surfing, having a successful career, being a parent or a wandering nomad, this life is yours. And to truly live it to the fullest you have to live it for you. No one else. Don’t listen to what other’s opinions are of you. They aren’t your business. Live in a way that you can say to yourself everyday “I am proud. Mistakes, accomplishments and lessons learned in all.”
Moderation Is For Cowards!