Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer has been one of my favorite books ever since I read it about 5 years ago. I was fascinated by the story of Christopher McCandless, who upon graduating from college gave away all of his savings, burned his Id’s and social security card, and essentially became a wanderer. His ultimate goal was to make it to Alaska, where he would walk into the wild with nothing but what he carried on his back. He would live off of the land, alone, with nature. I had been waiting for the movie to come out on DVD forever, and finally rented it the other night.
I have always loved reading and watching stories of survival, whether it be someone who was lost in the woods, shipwrecked on an island, or otherwise put it a position of having to do what it takes to live. I suppose I am interested in the science behind it, what makes our bodies capable of living through extreme conditions, and how our amazing brains function to make it happen. Geez, I should have gone to school for something more scientific. This story is a little different in that Christopher McCandless put himself there on purpose. Sure, he didn’t expect that he would actually become trapped in his circumstances, but he wanted to escape the American way of life. He didn’t belong.
My mom asked me “Who would do something like that and expect to survive?” Most people do not identify with a person who would walk into an Alaskan wilderness alone with intentions of living off the land, but I believe a little bit of that spirit is in us all. It’s just that most people would not take it to such an extreme. I, for one, would never give away all of my savings (ok, it’s not that much, but still) to embark on a wandering journey across the country, but part of me wishes I could take that journey. Because why not? Where am I going in my life that is so much better than that? It’s not that I take my life for granted, because surely I don’t. I am grateful for everything I have and my amazing fiance and family. This is more about a personal longing for life. To know why I am here and what I am meant to do. There is just so much out there that I want to see and experience, and it seems that the day to day just gets in the way of that.
Possessions are something that I have been thinking about a lot lately. Part of this has stemmed from the fact that I am self-employed, and have recently been going through a rough patch financially. A risk we take to enjoy the benefits of being our own boss, I guess. I haven’t been buying anything but the necessities for a while now. It’s not like I was some kind of compulsive shopper before, but I would go out clothes shopping now and again, maybe get a pedicure. By not buying things, I started to realize that I don’t want anymore than what I have. In fact, I have gotten rid of things to make my life simpler. I don’t want stuff. I would rather spend what money I have on experiences that will create memories. Thirty years from now I will not remember the shirt I bought at the mall or probably even what kind of car I drive now, but I will remember the cruise I took recently with my fiance, or the summer days spent out on the lake in our little boat, or the camping trips taken every year with my family.
I guess my point is that Chris McCandless to me, was the personification of all of those ideas squared and taken to the extreme. I cannot identify with the fact that he left his family behind and never contacted them again, or with many of the choices he made when it comes down to it, but I can identify with his spirit. Emile Hirsch did an amazing job of capturing this spirit and bringing it to life, and the movie itself was absolutely stunning. I found myself tearing up so many times throughout the movie, just at the awesomeness of nature and the beauty of the scenery. By the end I was bawling, even though I already knew what was coming, and I can’t even say exactly why it touched me so deeply. Just as I was hoping, the movie did the story justice, and as an aside, the soundtrack was pretty sweet too.