Supposedly, everyone gets 15 minutes of fame; a select few achieve notoriety for centuries, for good or ill. But who consciously goes out and builds a life of note, one that may only get a footnote in history, but of which one can look back and say, "Yeah, I did that."
Colonel David Smiley built such a life. You've got to admire the guy's dedication, passion, and patriotism and his willingness to accept inordinate personal risk in pursuit of doing that which he knew to be right. The guy has a whole closet full of "been there" T-shirts.
Of note, to me as an eternal foe and observer of bureaucracies, is the fact that while his obituary is rife with intrepid acts of derring-do, it's also salted with occasional fuck ups. In today's Army (or working with today's government), I think that any one of these would be a career ender. The SAS, of which Smiley was a member, declares that "who dares, wins." But it can also be said that "who dares, will every now and then biff." What is needed today is not, I think, men of steel like Smiley so much as organizations willing to employ them and underwrite their mistakes, knowing that no one is perfect and plans oft go awry.
Success is an obit that states: "Smiley's exploits led some to suggest that he was, along with several other candidates, a model for James Bond." I mean, how fucking cool is that?
h/t to Buddha, for passing me the obituary.