A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.
Friday 25 June 2010
Today was spent working our schedule around one simple but obtrusive goal – get above the Arctic Circle. The only place in Iceland to accomplish this feat is on the island of Grimsey, a land mass reached only three times weekly by ferry, which leaves from a harbor town 40 minutes north of our camp at 9. The ride is 3 hours each direction and the end result is 4 hours on an island. In planning the trip, this had always been one of the founding objectives. As we got closer, I started to worry that we were just checking stuff off of boxes the way that it seems people climb Everest because it is the badass thing to do, not because they particularly care about mountains or snow or altitude sickness as a drug. Even on the way to the ferry, this feeling ust got stronger – why am I going? What is the point of travel?
I don’t want to be someone who does things to say that he’s done them. I hope that I haven’t become that person who broadcasts his “look how travelled I am” at every opportunity. Yes, having a story is good. And being able to entertain in conversation is good. And I’d like to be a more cultured and knowledgeable person because of the things I see. At the very least, I want to see lots of things because I feel they enrich my experience, and I truly do enjoy them. But I never want to be someone who checks things off a box. Or does things because it is what is expected of him. That kind of living seems showy and untrue to oneself.
This is also all a sign that seeing pictures of myself in new places is not the draw it used to be for me. The standard shot of person in front of monument or place isn’t the trophy I used to believe. Now I’d prefer pictures of awesome places I’d seen, ideally ones I had taken that came out particularly well.
So as for crossing the 66 degree 33 minute mark? That was accomplished with relatively little fanfare. A small post that indicates the directions to various towns over a metal tube was really all that signified the manmade line. But just to the side was the islands small airport with no one at the tower so we could walk right onto the runway. Further north were cliffs blasted by strong ocean winds, a phenomenal sight in their own right, but significantly more so given the amount of puffins inhabiting them. It was my first puffin sighting of the trip, and done from abut 5 feet away. They sat and stared at me, occasionally awkwardly taking off and ambling through the air. I took pictures and laid in the sun, happy with the choice to come this far.