The Captain Diaries: March 29, 2011

Ocean Tempest

Up until now, I had lived my life without direction, without concrete plans, and without a vision. I got used to dreaming large but without clarity, looking into my blurry future with a set of dampen glasses. I knew not where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do, or how I would make a lasting impact on the world. I spent my college years pursuing a degree of rhetorical adventure, because I was not courageous enough to confront a non-virtual world. I lived my life in comfort, allowing computers to suppress my desire to sail, my yearning for a dangerous life packed with passion, with love, uncertainty and adventure. I made many excuses, like how being a foreigner to this country meant I didn’t have as many job prospects anyway, so sticking with what I already did well — software development — was a safe choice. And so I lived my life by a computer screen, neglecting the world that tried so hard to shine through my window.

Then, the incredible happened.  I was given the opportunity to become an American, a U.S. citizen. At that moment, my world suddenly changed. The world of wonders that I previously ignored because it only existed on the other side of a tiny, dirty window had now opened a door. I was free to stay in the dark room where I sat, all alone, by a computer, or to go peek outside and risk tripping and breaking a leg. I chose to peek, but there was so much outside that I was overwhelmed. The opportunities were endless — FBI special agent, NOAA Corps officer, robotics engineer, theoretical physicist, governor, soldier, mariner, astronaut… Although my world had suddenly expanded, I was still walking in it with no direction. Yet, I went after the two opportunities that integrated my thirst for knowledge and adventure with my passion to help and make a real difference. I applied to both NOAA Corps and the FBI. I took that first step. And then a second, and a third, and a fourth. And before I knew it, I was in Detroit taking and passing the exams for the FBI, and in Maryland/D.C. nailing an interview at NOAA. It was exhilarating!

As usual, though, my dreams that went up as high as Mars, eventually came crashing down, burning through the atmosphere and becoming celestial ashes. Thanks to a hand injury, it would be a while before I could pass the physical fitness exam for the FBI. At the same time, even though I did my best to get into NOAA, I didn’t make it. It was to be expected though — here I was, nothing more than a computer geek with dreams of grandeur, and no experience with pure science or ship handling, trying to compete against people who prepared their whole lives for this. I never stood a chance. However, something good came out my failure with NOAA. In the process of applying, I learned of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the U.S. Merchant Marines, and the Coast Guard.

I jumped right in to volunteer at the Auxiliary. I started to get training in navigation and seamanship, and I loved it! I loved the prospect of being in a military uniform, feeling proud of my new citizenship. Moreover, I caught a glimpse of the life of a Guardian, and started picturing myself as one. But my vision didn’t stop there. I saw myself out at a sea, having the life of adventure I always wanted, returning home after exotic trips, made into a champion, a real man. I started to look into service as a Guardian and as a merchant marine, and then learned about different schools for becoming a deck officer.  My life had taken yet another turn. This time, it was on track. I had direction. I had a vision. I wanted to sail, to be on the water, to see the world and help humanitarian missions as a captain. I had a goal, now all I needed was a plan.

Next Page>>

Pages: 1 2 3

About Gabriel Mongefranco

Gabriel Mongefranco is your software developer for all things data: extraction, integration, analytics and security. He is also a blogger, a poet, a proud father and a faithful Christian. He is always eager to contract with faith-based nonprofits! Learn more.