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What does it mean to be a citizen of the world? When have we
ever had that distinction in the history of the world? Is it really
possible to be a citizen of the world without understanding to a
certain extent how the world itself works? Is that even possible? What
could it mean, really, to be a citizen of the world?
Aren’t we all citizens of the world? I mean, we really only have
one of them. Is that really the top of the hierarchy? Is that the
ultimate form of society? Could that be a bad thing in the end? Is
that where we’re all headed? Down the funnel from the melting pot to
become a long line of blank faces dressed in ambiguous grays? Is the
concept of global citizenship a sign of the apocalypse? Is this what
Orwell and Huxley saw? If we have no lines to separate us, what
happens to the healthy and necessary debate? If everyone is allowed
to go wherever they feel, do whatever they want, say what they want to
say, and think what they want to think without fear of reproach, then
will we all just accept mental stagnation as we simply give up the
attempt to answer all the questions of the universe?
Will mankind ever reach a point where there is no frontier? No
new ideas, no new technology, no new conquest, no new destinations, no
new development, no desire, no fear, no need, no want? Is that
utopia? Dealing strictly with concepts again, what is the concept of
utopia? A perfect place where no one disagrees, you get everything
you want or need, and no one ever has to suffer? Would you want that
for yourself? No anguish to counteract your highs? No doldrums to
balance your winds of change? No ideological conflicts? Is that
heaven? Do we really want that? Wouldn’t that really be hell? Is
there any difference between the two? Is there really any difference
from any concept to any other? Is everything we hold dear just a
We’ve come to this juncture as a result of our own insistence.
We solemnly kept up the search for “truth.” We’ve got the possibility
to end the world sitting in the bottom of thousands of missile silos
all over earth, just waiting for our world leaders to have a nicotine
fit and press the proverbial button. We lost our innocence as
humanity the day America brought us all into the nuclear age. That
point has been argued to death, along with every other point any one
had, ever, since the whole fucking thing got started with the dick
face in the Tigris-Euphrates river basin that drew triangles in a
block of mud with a stick.
There’s something about being a citizen of the world, and our
communities at the same time. While relying on what divides us to
separate and stratify ourselves, we also use that very distinction to
recognize each other and identify ourselves. Every once in a while
you find a person you can actually relate to, even thousands of miles
away from your comfort zone. They do exist.
When we were lost in the Redwood Forest wandering around trying
to find a campsite, we came across a few descent ones, but nothing
that really caught our attention. There was one site we almost took,
consisting of a communal picnic table, six well groomed sites, food
safes to keep the animals away, and a wooden latrine all centrally
located around a fire pit with a metal ring. It was less than a mile
away from a paved parking lot with running water. We thought about it
for a moment, until we noticed a fat, wheezing group of teenagers
hiking coolers full of beer down the paths. Here I am trying to enjoy
the wilderness in quiet solitude, and I am still confronted with the
prospect of listening to idiot fucks bitch about their venereal
diseases in loud drunken yelps.
We left, and decided to find the most remote campsite we could.
We drove down a rutted out two track designated on the map as a cliff
line area near an old World War Two outpost. We barely made it back
there, dodging overgrown roots and foot deep ruts. We figured there
was little chance of human contact, considering the parking lot
dropped off three hundred feet to the Pacific Ocean, and the campsite
was a mile hike up the hill with barely a path and no lights at night.
Real camping. We brewed some tea on the camping stove we brought with
us, and got to setting up camp. Redwood is famously difficult to
burn, so as we were struggling with creating the fire, we hear a voice
call out from the distance.
Being in the outdoor enthusiast community generally means you’re
going to find a lot of like-minded folks in your wanderings. When you
pass a fellow woodsman, you say hello. It’s common courtesy, and a
mutual show of respect and understanding.
“What’s up?,” we respond immediately.
“Hey guys, how’s it goin?” we hear again, with the sound of
rustling grass and footsteps. A guy about our age approached, looking
fairly stereotypical for an outdoorsy type. Unshaven, long-ish black
hair, flannels, gleam in the eye from the overwhelming surroundings.
He comes up, shakes our hands and introduces himself.
“Hey, my name’s Nate – you guys from Michigan?”
We’re a little taken back, and I say “…yeah, how did you know?”
“Oh, there’s a car parked in the lot with a Michigan tag on it.
I’m from East Lansing, I moved out here a few years ago after I
visited. Got a job down in Arcata, and I’m staying with the logging
guys from Humboldt State. You guys smoke bud?”
Of course. Meet someone in Humboldt county, even if they’re from
Michigan, they’re gonna smoke bud. “Yeah, we smoke- but I just ran
out this morning”
“It’s all good, I’ve got a joint left that we can smoke after I
set up camp. I have some sausages, too, if you want them- I can’t eat
them all myself. Plus, if you guys are headed south tomorrow, I can
probably find you a sack in town if you don’t mind checking out
Arcata. We can get a beer or something and I can show you the city.”
Fucking righteous. Not only did we find a new friend a few
thousand miles away from home, but we had a few things in common, and
better yet he was going to solve my weed problems. “That’s fucking
awesome,” I say with an ear to ear grin.
Nate took his leave, marching back down the hill to get his gear
and set up camp. I began to feel a little under the weather, so I got
in the tent to take a nap. An hour or so later, I heard Nate come
back up, and he smoked the joint with Kevin, but I had a pounding
headache and just wanted to sleep. I know it must have been bad
considering I passed up a smoke, which I never do. In my light nap, I
heard Kevin and Nate talking by the fire. I listened to the sound of
the animals, the peace of the starry sky, the crack of the fire, and
the low chatter of two new found friends. Life at that moment was
good. Nearly as peaceful as my moment on the rock earlier that day.
I was beginning to feel a little more comfortable with myself,
finding some profound satisfaction that there was another person I
could relate to so far away. A life raft on the sea of stupidity
around me. A friendly face in the fog. Pick your metaphor, it was a
good thing to know we weren’t alone in our pursuit of intellectual
happiness and mental peace.
Nate went on to tell Kevin the story about how he ended up out in
California. I’m sure everyone’s heard a lot of stories about people
ending up in California. It seems to attract those types of people
seeking escape from the rest of the country. It must be sad when they
get there and find out it’s all the same no matter where you go. I
had already learned those lessons.
I was having a hell of a time trying to get some sleep. My
heartburn was flaring up, my head was pounding, my mouth was dry, I
had no water, and I was in dire need of a lengthy piss. I finally
shook myself awake around two so I could go down the hill to the car
and find my TUMS and Aspirin. I grabbed for my headlamp and walking
stick, and headed down the trail for a dark and treacherous voyage
through the overgrowth toward the car.
As I step out into the clearing next to the road, I hear Nate
call my name. He tells me he’s about to head home due to the cold,
and gives me his phone number so we can call him in the morning and
get directions to Arcata. I thanked him, and told him we had a nice
fifth of Patron Silver to crack open if he didn’t mind. He didn’t.
He hopped in the truck and took off down the dirt road, and I went for
Dwelling on the prospect of hiking back up that fucking hill in
the middle of the night, I opted for a warm nap in the back of the
car. After a healthy swig of water, some calcium carbonate, and a bit
of blood thinner, I was finally in a position to get some restful
I woke up shortly after dawn, with a breathtaking view of the
pacific ocean from the cliff we were parked on. I couldn’t help but
smile, being in such a god damned beautiful place. I couldn’t help
but smile even bigger knowing I was going to be scoring some legendary
Humboldt grass later that day.
After some personal time pondering what I was experiencing, I set
up the hill to the campsite to see if Kevin was awake. I found him
poking at the fire with a stick, brewing a cup of tea. I told him I
had slept in the car, and he told me about his conversation with Nate.
We broke camp and set out south in search of good food, hot coffee,
and cell phone service to call Nate.
After some breakfast and purchasing supplies in town, we put in
the call. Arcata was about two hours south of us right off the
Pacific coast highway, nestled on the other side of the ridge. As we
got off the exit, I noticed that there was no real sign of habitation
anywhere. Since we had been told, we figured it was the right way to
go, but if we hadn’t been told there would have been no reason to
suspect that any civilization was anywhere near that exit.
We took the exit, followed the roundabout, and drove about three
miles down the road as instructed, turned right, and found ourselves
descending into a beautiful valley town. As we rolled down the hill,
the sun poked out from beyond the broken horizon and punctuated the
quaint city skyline. I muttered, jaw agape, to Kevin, “I think we
have just stumbled upon paradise.”
We drove to the obvious center of town, as instructed, parked and
set out on foot to the pedestrian square. After a short walk, we came
to the statue in the center of the park, where we met Nate. After the
obligatory handshakes and hellos, we sat down on the bench to enjoy
the surroundings. He told us a bit about Arcata, some of the cool
places in town, about the college, about the beautiful women, and
about the perfect weather. Pacific Ocean less than an hour away,
surrounded by the Redwood Forest, a few hours north of the San
Francisco smog, nestled in the mountains, rarely snows, never over
eighty, never below freezing. Sounds like paradise to me.
It was about noon, and the dude with the grass didn’t get back
from logging camp until five or so, which left us with a few hours to
kill. We shot the shit a while, checked out a local donut shop with
some fucking delicious cake donuts, browsed the used bookstores, and
enjoyed the aforementioned female scenery. Paradise, surely it was.
Nate had to go to class for an hour or so, and left us with
directions to his house. We grabbed a late lunch waiting for him, and
I found an ATM to get the seventy bucks to get the quarter of grass.
Seventy a quarter was thirty less than I had been paying at home, and
Humboldt grass is rightfully legendary. Needless to say as it is
already obvious, I was delighted.
We drove down the dirt road to the farm that Nate was staying on.
It was a pig farm, and the farmer had allocated a small amount of land
for a small real estate venture, along with a few spaces for R.V.’s.
It was a nice place, just out of town. Rustic enough to call
peaceful, close enough to civilization not to go crazy. I found the
buried bottle of Patron from the back of the car, and we knocked on
Nate answered, and introduced us to his roommates. We all shared
a shot of Tequila, and talked about where we were all from and how we
got to Arcata, California. There were a lot of interesting stories,
as any experienced traveler can testify to. It seems like people that
live with the understanding of an entire world around them always have
good stories to tell.
After another round of shots, we headed out back to the R.V. with
the dope. The guy, I can’t remember his name, reminds me it’s seventy
for the quarter. I surrender the cash, he retreats into the R.V.
while I pour another round.
After he comes out, he takes the glass, we toast to great
adventures. He smiles, pulls the bag from his hoodie’s front pocket,
and says “this is a grip more than a quarter, welcome to Humboldt.”
In my had drops an entire ounce of the best marijuana I have ever
seen in my life. Had I not been three double shots of Patron down, I
would have ejaculated in my jeans. I just smiled, and said “thank
you” about ten times. We went out back to see the pigs and smoke a
farewell cigarette, and Kevin and I loaded up the car for the drive
south to San Francisco.
We took one last round of shots, thanked everyone for their
hospitality, exchanged numbers, addresses, and E-Mails, and promised
to stay in touch.
As Kevin and I pulled back on to the Pacific Coast Highway, we
were presented with a classic Pacific Ocean sunset to add a perfect
end to a perfect day. I left that city with a new feeling of
fulfillment in life, and a satisfaction that I wasn’t the only person
on this Earth that loved his life and yearned for the experiences it
has to offer.
Being a global citizen means many things. It implies an acute
understanding of how small one person is in relation to the global
expanse. It implies a level of intellectual awareness that allows you
to contemplate things outside your own frame of reference. It
requires that you understand the world has many faces, cultures,
opinions, customs, and ideas. It goes without saying that you would
possess the social skills to interact respectfully with people on a
personal level. It’s a strong bet that you yearn for the new, respect
the old, and take full appreciation of the time between. Being a
global citizen means you have reached a new level of existence, as a
child of history, and a recipient of its bounty. Global citizenship
is the next intellectual paradigm, and the progenitor of an
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