Nov 122008
Authors: Phoenix MourningStar

This planet is a round ball of rock and water housing an uncountable number of beings almost aimlessly bumping into one another; interacting, exchanging energy and meandering their way through life toward some end that will come always sooner than expected.

I’ve often thought it interesting that humans appear to be the one species that have “advanced” to the point that life is so easy and controlled that recreation involving near-death activities has become the norm.

To be fair, this is primarily a phenomenon of western cultures — to slide down the sides of mountains with oddly shaped wooden planks strapped to our feet (maybe wood that could be used for heat or cooking food), jumping out of perfectly good airplanes (which arguably could be used to airlift supplies to disaster victims) or riding bicycles across our mountains (whose price tags make a $2 per day salary bring a reality check in the form of tears).

I think of these things more often as I trust many of us have.

Globalization, CNN, Internet, RyanAir: All these things have made traveling our world from our living rooms as easy as a click — maybe actually leave the living room to see it for ourselves in short doses.

It hits you between the eyes when your colleagues return from Nicaragua telling of the poverty they dealt with daily, while during that same period of time counterparts across the street in a massive, near-empty United Nations building are taking extended lunch breaks at the Starbucks.

The drain on my heart is likely attached to the multiple pairs of skis and snowboards I own (and the dozens I’ve since left at ski swaps across the country), and the bike I have in storage (I can only tide it in the summer), the SCUBA gear I haven’t used in four years (it might be handy if the ice caps keep melting) and the climbing gear I’ve never used, still waiting for that dream girl who will take me on an adventure.

It might be a losing battle for our generation in some ways — the addiction to these wonderful, thrilling “adventures” at the expense of our neighbors living on other parts of the planet.

I hate to say all this in the name of pointing the finger toward the “spoiled-American-youth” mantra, but I can’t help recalling a poem I once wrote which incorporated this quote: “One person cannot change the world; but the world will not change without a person”

Maybe its one of those things idiotic enough to sound wise; maybe I dreamed the phrase myself. For some reason, the words have stuck with me.

Watching and listening to the first acts our new president will take: reopening the debate on potentially life saving stem cell research, negotiations with Russia about these missiles, some dental work to give teeth the California Environmental Protection Agency to do their job.

It makes me think all the more of those toys in storage back home in Fort Collins and how I might be ready to answer some sort of call for self-globalization.

Thanksgiving is nearly here, Christmas is coming and then New Year’s — three opportunities for inspirational and symbolic change to take a new direction in the way the world might chose to interact with my life, to try to bump into other planetary beings in more ways than just a bike and a pair of bindings and maybe consider slowing down a little. We’re all heading toward the same end, after all. There’s no need to race.

For now these ideas of brotherly ‘one-ness’ are going to have to wait.

The Russian border control have entered into their 5th hour of deliberations on what to do with this guy “Phoenix” who has arrived at their airport with a suspicious looking visa. So long as they don’t “fine” me another 2000 rubles, I think I’ll keep up some sliver of this newfound optimism.

Phoenix Mourning-Star is a environmental health graduate student. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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