“You should install a GPS tracking app in your phone so that we can track your location anytime.”
“If we don’t see your social media update every hour, we’re going to call and find you.”
“When you go through this route, don’t go wandering around except the highway. Just drive, don’t stop.”
“You better be in one piece at the end of the 25 days. We need you here!”
It was my last day as an intern in the Silicon Valley. My colleagues and supervisor jokingly threw comments and suggestions at me while I was debugging my final piece of production code before I leave. All my luggage and equipments were packed and stationed in the office so that I could directly go to the airport to catch my flight. My schedule was so tight that I had to drive out the day I landed in Cincinnati. There was no time to relax nor meet friends after I got home. I had to immediately check-in with my friend who was suppose to drive out with me, pack my remaining things, make sure we have everything for the journey (food, medicines and utilities) and head out. The fatigue after the 12-hour flight along with the timezone difference was the last thing on my mind. To understand the scenario, let me take you back a bit.
It had been 23 hours since I took a short nap, let alone good sleep. I was participating in an intern hackathon in LinkedIn HQ (probably one of the best hackathons that I’ve been to). It was 3 am in the morning and I was so caffeinated to a point that I was lost in my own code base. As I was working to fix a nagging problem, I received a notification in my inbox. You know those situation when you are feeling so helpless that you wander off as an legitimate excuse in the slightest opportunity in front of you. Yep, that was one of them. I even started opening some unread “Deal of the Week’ emails to reset my brain.
The message read –
“This is approved by the council. We really can’t wait to see the first report from this. : D Good luck : )”
As my brain was still trying to process the email because of how sleep deprived I was, I got another notification.
“Hi Prashish, Please document your trip thoroughly. We are very excited and waiting to see all your videos, pictures, blogposts and reports. : D”
It had been little over a week since I sent my proposal to the Mozilla Reps Council and to be honest, I didn’t have much hope for my mega-drive to get approved. I had to stay calm, control my emotions and send out a ‘Thanks!’ email sounding happy and excited. I did that. Before telling this to all my friends and Mozillians who had been constantly supporting me, I had to finish my project in the hackathon. It was a test of control. I shut down the emotions and continued working on the project without sleep for another 17 hours. Even after the presentations was done and the event was officially over, I didn’t want to think with my super-tired head. It was a test of patience. I wanted a sound sleep and then think of the super exciting journey that I would be taking from the month of August. I couch surfed at a nearby friend’s house in Santa Clara and woke up fresh after a full 12-hour uninterrupted sleep. I passed all my tests. It was the beginning of couch surfing and what was to come in the next one month.
The next few days kept me super busy as I planned and launched the official website, social networking profiles (Twitter, Facebook) and a Q/A page. As I was working on the MozDrive website, I asked several Mozillians for suggestions and testimonials.
William Reynolds, Product Manager at Mozilla – “I’m excited about the Mozilla Awareness Drive. This is one of the most ambitious campaigns organized by a Mozillian. There’s nothing like visiting Mozilla and Firefox fans and having casual chats with them.”
Sayak Sarkar, Mozilla Reps Super Mentor – “I think that this is perhaps one of the most ambitious yet promising initiatives towards spreading the Mozilla mission and awareness about the open web since the Firefox Crop Circle initiative. This initiative speaks out a great lot about how passionate Mozillians are towards the project and how much they are inspired towards contributing towards a common goal of a Free and Open Web.”
The testimonials by Sayak and William really caught my eyes as both of them used the phrase – ‘one of the most ambitious’. To be honest, I didn’t realize the scale of this project until the very last moment. It isn’t that I didn’t understand the project but the desire to do something meaningful for the Mozilla community made the whole planning process look very straightforward. You see, it had been little less than a year since I came to the United States as a graduate student. Back in Kathmandu, Nepal, I would be attending/organizing Mozilla related events in a regular basis; be it orientations, hackathons or meet ups. That drastically changed after I stepped in the United States as I was adapting to the new environment and getting myself caught in the new world around me. To be fair, I did attend the Mozilla Festival in London and Mozilla Reps Meet up in Portland the same year. But, I felt I didn’t make a lot of impact that I would have liked to. In Nepal, there was a huge movement in Mozilla and Open Source that you could actually see the community growing and getting more active. That was something that I wanted to do here too.
The Mozilla Community is very close to my heart because everyone really cares about their work and how that impacts lives around the world. Every Mozillians that I meet are passionate about their work and the community. There is no ‘I’ but ‘We’ in our community. You don’t see a lot of these sort of things in the world we live in. And to be part of this, always makes me a proud Mozillian. I could have easily spent my 25-days break completing full seasons of TV series that I’ve always wanted to. Or if I wanted to be productive, work on a hobby project. Both of them sounded fun as I had spent months working on many products in a very competitive startup in the heart of Silicon Valley. But that’s not something Mozillians do. A Mozillian would spend his free time taking actions on how he/she could build communities together. A Mozillian would plan and work to make the web free and open. A Mozillian would create a movement. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to inspire thousands of Mozillians around the world to take actions on their dreams to make them a reality. That’s the reason I set out on this incredible journey to travel around the United States to spread the love about Mozilla and the Open Web.
To tell you the truth, I’m freaking scared of driving. But who isn’t? When there are cars zooming from every direction, the only thought in my head is reaching my destination safely. I never drove a car for more than 10 hours total in my life (which includes me sitting on the driver’s seat and being amazed by all the buttons in front of me). I never had a driving license in Nepal and I barely passed the maneuvering exam on the same day that I was set to fly for San Francisco (internship). That left me with a learner’s permit to drive with a legal driver next to me.
But that didn’t stop me from driving almost half the United States in less than a month. It didn’t stop me from gathering the courage to say ‘YES!’ to the most amazing adventure even though I had no prior experience. It didn’t stop me from taking that risk that would drastically change my life for good.
You might think I’m crazy.
Ask John – that guy who we found in Craigslist to rideshare with us to Los Angeles. He had traveled to almost all the US States and when I told him about our drive, he immediately responded – ‘You(‘re) crazy man!’.
Or ask Laura – the lady who I met in Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City and had to convince her by showing MozDrive’s Facebook page after she rejected my approach saying – ‘I don’t buy this sh*t’.
Or ask my mom whom I had to convince 4 times everyday that everything will be alright and is under control.
Because driving 13,000 miles in 25 days which is around 8-10 hours everyday is not a joke in any sense. The body and mind could take so much that you needed a lot of self control and motivation throughout the journey for you not to burn out. Yes, there were times when I questioned the entire journey and why I was doing this. Yes, there were times where I wanted to chicken out half way through thinking people will forget about this. But, when you are on a journey which carried such powerful mission and values, that becomes your driving force. When you truly believe in a cause, your physical body will somehow find a way to make it happen and keep you moving forward.
The journey itself was immense where I had opportunities to meet people from all walks of life, culture and countries. I have so much stories to share that I don’t even know where to start. But I promise, I will. That’s why you are reading this. I want you to know what’s in store for everyone in the next 3-4 months. I’m not a writer by any means nor do I have any experience in professional writing. It took me two days just to think and come up this amateur 2,000 word chapter. But, I’m a strong believer of Growth Mindset, and I believe that I can eventually learn the art of expressing my thoughts and ideas through words. My final goal is to write at least 20 chapters of my experience during MozDrive. And to take it one step further – publish it as an ebook in future. That’s the dream!
It is impossible to accomplish a goal without taking actions on it. And this is my first step towards that goal. I know it will take a longer time, but I feel that it will be worth it at the end. And I do hope that you find a positive progress in my writing over time. By taking actions, I simply aim to inspire and awaken hearts of people to do something that they believe in.
If you are reading this – I thank you for taking time and interest in my next journey for MozDrive. Since, I am no writer, I’m looking for people who would be interested to proof-read and edit my future articles for MozDrive. Please send me a message or tweet if you have any suggestions, feedback or are interested in being part of this journey with me.