Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

Living in a Ping Pong Ball

Tues 29 June 2010

Living in a ping pong ball is a concept I’d not previously experienced. Vision is limited in 10 meters in every direction by virtue of the fog. Rushing waterfalls pound in the distance though you have no hope of seeing them. And when no sound exists, you are alone in a silent world that could extend to infinity. The trail unfolds before you with no hope of advanced knowledge. Looking back, you can only see your last few steps. It is like living in Memento.

Doing such a hike would seem an unwise proposition. Doing it on top of an active volcano standing on 6 inches of packed ash on top of a glacier 10km from “civilization” might seem a bit less wise.  But once you’ve climbed enough and the fog envelops you, you press on, knowing you are closer to your destination than your starting point, or just too stubborn to turn around.

The silent, pristine desolation that spreads out as far as the eye can see (all 10 meters of it) is an impressive testament to the power of nature. When the scene doesn’t change after an hour of hiking, that power is amplified. Throw in the silence and the fog and the misting rain and all you find yourself asking one question over and over: “Why is the earth so angry?”

The hut at the top of the mountain has 17 beds, a stove and a friendly volunteer manager. After an 8 hour hike with gear on my back, the 2 hour nap followed by devouring ramen seemed the best idea. After most people went to sleep, going out into the silent wasteland seemed the right move. In a world absent of anything living, a grey terrain of rock and dust and mush could just as well be the moon as a volcanic site. In this remoteness, on top of the still shouldering land, I am king. The last man standing in a world of dubious honor to possess.

But standing out in the cold gave me some solace. And a place to record my video pleading to win a round-the-world 6 month trip. If I can see this much beauty in a two day hike, will my brain explode in a 6 month jaunt?

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This entry was posted on June 29, 2010 by in Iceland.

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