Reflecting on a Life
We will talk about energy matters another time. Today, I have something else I need to share with you.
This week, we honored those who have given the supreme sacrifice to allow the rest of us to live the kind of lives we do.
For me individually, this is a very tough time of the year. And it is all coming back to me this morning.
First, I am completing the “Acknowledgements” section of my latest book – The Great Game: The Coming Face Off for Global Supremacy. You will be seeing a documentary shortly with information on how to receive a copy… free. So watch out for it.
Anyway, in acknowledging who I should thank, a flood of memories rushed in. Many involved experiences on the front lines of the Cold War and its aftermath, while walking in what these days feel like another guy’s shoes.
I was then playing “The Great Game” as a profession; a game with some very high stakes. This morning, acknowledging those who helped me shape the book has quickly given way to acknowledging who I am.
That in turn brought back the faces of people who helped shape me. I owe them my life. For a few, that debt is a very literal one.
And that gives way to a ready emotion, a result of the second matter hitting today. It’s what makes this time of year so difficult for me, because Saturday (May 31) is a bittersweet anniversary.
It is one of two dates on which I should have died.
On both occasions, somebody else did instead. But what makes Saturday the more poignant is the victim. He was a fellow traveler in “The Great Game,” a close friend, and I put him there.
It was during a still classified operation that had gone very sour, compounded by the part of the world we were in. There was little in the way of a support structure to fall back on. I made a mistake that didn’t help matters any and the op started unraveling.
What happened next is something that stays with me forever. He simply jumped into the line of fire and took a spray of bullets.
How do you “acknowledge” somebody for having done that? I couldn’t later when I met with his widow and their two daughters back home. Can’t do it now.
That I received two of my medals for the affair simply added to the irony and the pain. For his part, the man whose sacrifice let me keep on breathing received a star on a wall in northern Virginia. It does not even bear his name, given that the assignment is still classified.
He gave his life to save mine and even now his name cannot be mentioned.
I have never been able to shake the feeling of living on borrowed time. It is something that will be with me always.
As one of my mentors used to say, “If you live long enough in this business, you end up walking with ghosts.”
Nobody told me at the time that some of those ghosts are more personal than others.
But if this life given to me by others has taught anything, it is this. You need to stand for something; you need to make other people’s sacrifices – spouses, parents, family, friends, fellow countrymen – worth the effort.
It is the only way each of us can shoulder the legacy, the gift, the responsibility.
Especially these days. Conflict is a major part of what is experienced all around us. In fact, it has been the norm for some time. Peace seems to be the exception rather than the rule.
OEI can’t deal with the bigger issues. Yet I can at least offset how some implications of conflict affect your financial security.
The next six to twelve months will be a major period of volatility for the energy sector. We are again reaching one of those times where decisions will have massive consequences, there will be winner and losers, and life will have changed a bit once it is all over.
I intend to help you stay on the plus side in all of this, as part of the way to honor those who got me through earlier tough times.
Consider it my own version of paying it forward.