According to Wikipedia, an "old salt" in the English speaking naval services is often a raconteur, or teller of sea stories. Much of the history and traditions of the naval services are passed from generation to generation of service members by these sea stories as told and retold by old salts. Sea stories may be truthful, half-truths, or falsehoods, however they always enhance the reputations of naval and Marine units, or individuals.
I believe that Old Salt is someone you need to know, whether in the military or as a civilian. That military term "Time-in-Grade" or "Time-in-Service" shows us how long a person has been at a particular rank or how long they've served. Time is a great Teacher, and we would be wise to learn from those who've been around longer than us - regardless of their uniform.
For me, Old Salt is a person who you meet many times in your lifetime. Each Old Salt is unique. Each taught me or continues to teach me things that help me along the way. Each shares his/her experiences with the goal of making me a better person and often asks nothing in return but to know how things are going in my life based on their genuine desire to help.
Identifying "Old Salt" in your life can help you in many ways. The seasoned veterans in uniform or in civilian clothes have stories to tell. These stories help you understand life. You learn the ways of the work world through these stories. You receive mentorship through these stories. When the going gets rough, you might glean some vital information from Old Salt that helps you make better decisions.
Old Salt shares the ways of old. When you've read enough history, Old Salt provides a living history of the way things were. Old Salt fills in the gaps of our understanding with colorful stories, old Wives tales, tall tales, or personal accounts. When you remember conversations with Old Salt, you're always a better person after spending time listening and learning from them. When was the last time you spent some time with someone who could captivate you with stories? When did you hear someone who had the unique ability to create a "theater in your mind" by way of the spoken word? When did you last find encouragement from someone who had a "You First!" attitude?
Who is Old Salt for me?
Old Salt was and is:
My late Father who taught me many things about the Military, people, and life and also lived his last days trying to help others.
My late Mother who could remember names, faces, and important things about others, focusing on what others valued most about life.
My first NCO who said, "Sir, you're an Officer. I'm an NCO. Your job is to get me a frame, a canvas, and some paint. My job is to paint the picture!"
My last Commander who cared about the challenges I was having making the Military-to-Civilian career transition and supported my efforts.
My Soldiers whom with I served. They taught me a lot and I never forget these important lessons.
My Teachers and Instructors who pushed me, challenged me, and raised the bar of excellence each time.
My coworker who became the first person to accomplish a remarkable honor at the company yet shared his vast wisdom with me so that I could succeed too.
My Friends who truly know me, we depend on each other, we hold each other accountable, and we have remained Friends, in some cases, over the past 42 years.
My Musician Friends who share their vast knowledge of music as passed down to them personally from legends in Jazz history.
My late Uncle who used to tell stories of listening within arm's reach of John Coltrane and Miles Davis.
And, let's not forget "Young Salt" - my Wife of 24 years who brings out the best in me and our children.
Enough about me, let's hear about who you consider "Old Salt"!
Who do you consider "Old Salt" and why?
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