Bookin It: "Rickenbacker, An Autobiography"

One of the best pieces of advice that I've ever been given is that "Life is too short to read worthless books." Since then, I've focused on reading any and all material that provides some sort of a positive influence on me, and have let go of reader's guilt to not finish a book I already started. This approach to reading hasn't kept me from reading hard or easy books. Some books are full of fairies and magic. Some are hilarious. Others are real life, sad experiences. But each story somehow serves me in some good way, and changes me for something better.

Edward Rickenbacker's autobiography just about killed me over and over again with its awesomeness. I know there are a billion other words to describe the experience I had while reading it, but awesome just fits the bill. I would constantly stop and tell Taylor "Oh my heck. He is amazing. And insane. But amazing. And so awesome."

Rickenbacker is probably most well known as a fighter pilot in World War 1. But, if this book taught me anything, it's that people aren't categorized just by a profession or an accomplishment. Especially this man who has done so much more than flown a plane in a war. (Although that is pretty hard core, not to mention dangerous and the cause of many losses of life.)

His autobiography starts out from his boyhood. He very aptly describes his trouble-making self, right up to the loss of his father from when he was just entering teenagehood. He never finished the 7th grade, because he chose to start working to provide for his family of his mother and 6 other children. Right from the start, you can feel his determination to prove people wrong (in a good way), and keep on a promise to himself to take care of his family.

Rickenbacker has a talent for engineering and art. The combination of these talents served him very well in the car business. This was just when cars were getting to be a big deal to America. In one car shop, he started out as a cleaning boy. He worked his way up the ladder through good, honest work and perseverance, and received a great blessing to be a race car driver for the company. He continues with race car driving, making money to provide for his mother, and having the time of his life, although he brushes with death far too many times to count.

From here, his story could have ended great. He could have provided for his family, up until they were well settled and married into their own families. He could have then settled down with a cute girl and had his own family. However, that wasn't the plan for him. War, I think, had a big part to do with it. Although he loved cars, he started falling in love with the airplane. He was signed up in pilot training when World War 1 was breaking out.

And then a whole bunch of insane crazy stuff happened. I won't even mention it here because you really need to read it.

But you should know that he is one of, if not the biggest, reasons why you can get on a plane from Seattle to visit Los Angeles for the weekend.

I couldn't write this post in time for the 4th of July, but now's a good time as any. I chose to publish this post near this patriotic holiday because this book really strengthened my love for my country. This isn't a "war" book. In fact, the war is only a chapter or two in the entire book. It's about diligence, honesty, choosing morals over popularity, and working hard to provide for your family and your community. It's about facing fear, physical pain, and how to be a real leader when you're stranded in a raft on the ocean waters with 6 other men. It's about being humble and knowing that all you have belongs to God. 

All these things I think are what make up America. 

I love it.

I am grateful to live in a land where I can voice my opinion on anything.
I am grateful to choose my religion.
I am grateful for agency.
I am grateful for our national pride, and that most of us can generally bond over cat videos and kids doing hip hop dances on the internet.

I love my country.

And I really love this book.