Da Gama, Vasco

Da Gama, Vasco: (c.1469–1524), Portuguese explorer

There was a hundred-year time span in Europe when explorers were as plentiful as singers auditioning for American Idol.

It suddenly became popular to beg for money for an expedition crew, to set off to the west in search of fulfilling adventures and new lands.

Since there were so many of these itinerant fortune seekers, it’s difficult to remember them individually.

Christopher Columbus certainly fared well in that category.

Henry Hudson is noted (by having a river named after him).

Cortez came along to try to explain the difference between the Inca and the Mayans.

And Coronado is mentioned by every tour guide in Arizona, illuminating the crowd about the history of the Grand Canyon.

That brings us to poor Da Gama.

He, too, was an adventurer, a captain of a ship, a man of daring and do. He sailed around the Cape of Good Hope, making it clear why someday a better path needed to be found.

He had a cool name, though.

Whereas Hudson had Henry and Columbus had Christopher, Da Gama had Vasco.

So even though you may not remember his deeds or be able to recite the extent of his itinerary, the name “Vasco” will probably stick in your mind for a long time.

It is a humbling lesson to us all—that we journey through this life and we do many things, most of which will soon be forgotten.

So keep in mind—to have an unusual name which just might spark future bored fifth-grade students who are forced to peruse the Internet during their “discovery of America history lesson” and are suddenly drawn to you…

…because your name is something like Vasco instead of Benny-Boy.



Clamber: (v) to climb, move, or get in or out of something in an awkward and laborious way, typically using both hands and feet

It’s difficult to know whether we are judged by what we’re able to achieve, or how well we overcame the obstacles that attempt to forbid

Yes, you could discuss that one for hours.

It reminds me of the time I took my children to an amusement park. I was still a very young man, but very fat. This created an immediate perplexity. Because I was young, I envisioned things I could do, often not taking into consideration the extra baggage I was bringing along.

Another example:

We went out on a boat trip. They had a little, thin gangplank to get on the boat, which I was grateful to have negotiated. So I assumed that when we returned there would be some sort of similar passageway from the front of the boat onto the dock again.

There wasn’t.

They eased the boat toward the landing, leaving a gap of about three feet between the boat and the safety of the dock. Well, other folks gave it a little bit of a running start, leaped into the air and came down safely onto the pier.

I kept inching my way behind people, letting them go first. I guess I was hoping that I would have a few minutes at the end, to figure out what to do, but failed to realize that all the people stayed on the dock and were going to watch my grand leap.

I tried to make that running start, to clamber with my entire obese body, legs and arms in the air, and land safely.

Just when I got to the end of the boat, my brain said, “Are you crazy?”

An immediate order was given at Mind Central: STOP!!

I nearly tumbled into the water but was able to step back. Then I tried to reach one leg across, and was able to get my foot onto the surface, but I was spread too far to get any pressure on the leg to push me over.

By this time I had secured an audience.

People began to make suggestions. My children were trying to hide and my wife was already being comforted by strangers.

At this point, I decided it was impossible. The ordeal went for ten minutes. The combination of fear, practicality and my limitations was turning me into a sea-lovin’ man.

Finally the captain took a rope and hooked it around some sort of turret and pulled the whole boat a bit closer–with just his sheer brute force. This received applause from those standing by. Even more humiliation.

I still was not able to find a “clambering” approach to leaving the boat. So three guys reached down, grabbed me under my arms and on the count of three, hoisted me up on the dock.

I attempted to land with some authority, stomping my feet a couple of times so the people around me would be aware that I had muscular ability, then quickly grabbed my family and disappeared into the crowd, heading for the refreshment stand.

After all, I was hungry from all the exertion.

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