Today, I’m reflecting on the definition of the word, aspire. When I was sixteen years old, I aspired to owning a car. I needed a car so I could get a better job. I needed a better job so I could buy food to eat and clothes to wear. So, I put together a plan, and worked to earn $25.00 a week to buy a 1946 Ford coupe for $100.00. The car didn’t run, so I had to work another week to earn another $18.00 for a starter motor. I still remember how excited I was the first day I drove my very own car to school.

At age seventeen, I aspired to join the fight against the world-wide spread of Communism. So, pursuant to that aspiration, in August of 1965, I joined the United States Marine Corps. By March of 1968, I had learned to be much more cautious about the things I aspired to. Being shot down in a helicopter can be a bone-jarring experience. Being shot out of the air eight times is not only bone-jarring, it’s downright sobering! My time as a combat helicopter aircrew member did, however, earn me a title of respect. I became know by the nick-name of Shaky Jake.

For several years after returning home from the Republic of South Vietnam, I aspired to develop a closer relationship with God. I had compelling questions such as, “Who’s in charge up there? Who decides who gets killed in action and who gets to return home and live with survivors guilt? “How is it that I can get shot down eight times and live, while some other poor slob gets killed on his very first mission?” Those were questions only God could answer, and – guess what – He did.

In 1972 I aspired to earn my FAA certifications as a commercial helicopter pilot and flight instructor. I accomplished the goal and worked for years as a charter helicopter pilot and flight instructor.

In the year 2012, at the age of sixty-six, I aspired to retire and begin the final career path of my lifetime. I aspired to be a published writer. I self-published my first book in October of 2013: “Boyhood Adventures.” By October of this year, I will have published the revised edition of that same book; this time, to be published by a traditional publisher. Following achievement of that goal, I will complete “Wings of Valor,” a project I’ve been working on for decades. After publication of Wings, I’ll begin working on a fictional story I’m calling, “The Troubleshooter.”  I’m very excited to get to work on this project. Inspiration has played a huge part in development of plot and character elements. I have high hopes for its success.

Today, as I reflect on the definition of the word, aspire, I’m compelled to recognize the effect of its counterparts on outcome. Things like planning, action, and diligence are key elements in achieving any objective, except – maybe – standing under an apple tree waiting for fruit to fall. But I don’t believe much of anything of real value, comes so easily. Anyway, diligence comes into play in that few worthy goals are achieved without negotiating hurdles. Typically, I believe, the greater the value of the objective, the more a person must plan, work, and be perseverant. Anyway, that’s been this humble writer’s experience.