Into the Wild

I wanted movement and not a calm course of existence,  I wanted excitement and danger and the chance to sacrifice myself for love.  I felt in myself a superabundance of energy which found no outlet in quiet life. — Leo Tolstoy, “Family Happiness”

The story of Chris “Alexander Supertramp” McCandless has inspired hundreds of vagabonders — Chris’ ideals of heading into the wilds, surviving on his own through hitchhiking, hiking, hunting, gathering, left many feeling overwhelmed with the loss of their own lives to the obscurity and drone of everyday money-making and idealism.  

Jon Krakauer’s book, “Into the Wild” inspired a movie (of the same name), and I personally have encountered friend after friend along the road who cites Krakauer’s work as pivotal and seminal to their own life.  My friend Colleen, with whom I traveled through Honduras and Guatemala last year, love it.  I found it in the bookshelves of people who have opened their homes to me, in the traveling cases of rideshares who hopped into my car (glorified hitchhiking!), and even my own mother, who had never heard of it before, praised Chris’ ideals.  “He just wanted to live his own life, his own way,” she said.  

Yet McCandless’ death, after hurling himself into Alaskan wilderness armed only with a light-gauge rifle and ten pounds of rice, made many people certain that he wasn’t showing proper respect for the nature he claimed to love.  He was arrogant, they said, and so he died.  The land is dangerous.  The land deserves respect.  Wandering deserves respect.

Wandering, vagabonding, call it what you want…it’s outside the realm of usual societal rules, so it requires different rules, rules of its own.  We have to find or create those rules ourselves, because no-one will make them for us.  We are creating a new world, albeit one that already exists in some ways, and a new way to be in it.

Posted by | Comments (4)  | January 27, 2009
Category: General

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