September 15, 2010 by William K. Wolfrum
Some are born eyes wide open. They are the few that have an innate understanding of life from the get go. They understand love, and responsibility and the importance of others. I was not one of those people.
I suppose my eyes didn’t really start to open until I was 29. Up until then, I was the typical American boy. Stupid, self-centered, ignorant yet arrogant. I lived in the land of U.S. fantasy, where anyone could be great if they really tried and worked hard. Ronald Reagan was the greatest President ever, because my Dad had said so and I really didn’t care one way or another. I was the prototype American. I was oblivious.
It was 1996, and I was working on a fishing vessel. We were in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. I had been doing that job about four years. I was standing in a huge freezer and we were offloading the 30,000 cases of fish we had just caught.
The freezer was open to the air, and we’d load a pallet full of cases of fish, and the ship’s crane would come down and pick it up, taking it to the dock. So for about a minute, from deep within the ship’s bowels in a freezer, I could look up and see the threatening Alaskan sky. I stood in the freezer as they craned off a pallet of fish and looked up and felt snow hit my face.
I was 29, I was standing in a freezer on a boat on the Aleutian Chain, and it was snowing on me. I thought of going to college for the first time. I knew something had to change.
That was Day One. That was the day my eyes finally began to open.