Friday, August 24, 2007

Into the Wild

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

This is the story about Christ (Alex Supertramp) McCandless. He graduated from college and set out on a solo road trip in which he never returned. After he left he completely severed all ties, going by a made up name and not contacting any former friends or family. The journey began in Atlanta with detours through Arizona, California, Mexico, and South Dakota before his fatal ending near Denali National Park Alaska.
Part of me identified with this young man's passionate persuit into the wild but also his meathod was very selfish. He depended on no one for companionship or survival. He desired to be completely independent and at one with nature. I appreciate nature but realize that I prefer to share beauty with another person and know that sticky situations come up and it's good to travel with others for safety.
Chris' heros were Henry Thoreau, Jack London, and Leo Tolstoy. A couple quotes from the end of his life:
"Now what is history. It is the centureies of systematic explorations of the riddle of death, with a view to overcoming death. That's why people discover mathematical infinity and electromagnetic waves, that's why they write symphonies. Now you can't advance in this direction without certain faith. You can't make such discoveries without spiritual equipment. And the basic elements of this equipment are in the gospels. What are they. To begin with, love of one's neighbors, which is the supreme form of bital energy. Once it fills the heart of man it has to overflow and spend itself. And then th two basic ideals of modern man-without them he is unthinkable-the idea of free personality and the idea of life as sacrifice." Boris Pasterniak, Doctor Zhivago Page highlighted in one of the books found with Chris' remains; underscoring by McCandless.
Upon finishing reading Tolstoy's "Family Happiness" McCandless marked passages including:
"He was right in saying that the only certain happiness in life is to live for others...." "I have lived through much, and now I think I have found what is needed for happiness. A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possiblity of being useful to people whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbor-such is my idea of happiness. And then, on top of all that, you for a mate, and children, perhaps-what more can the heart of a man desire?"
These quotes make me wonder what would happen if Chris had managed to survive the Alaskan wilderness. Would he contact his family. Would he allow himself to be known and vulnerable to friends. Or would he continue to maintain only a relationship to the wild as Alexander Supertramp.
I love people and I hope my desire for adventures never supersedes my desire to know and love people.


gerbmom said...

I just heard about that book the other day - I wanna read it.....

joeldaniel said...

stumbled across your blog today for some research i'm doing for a sermon on Sunday in which I'm referencing Into The Wild. anyway, if you weren't aware, Sean Penn directed a movie of the book that came out this fall and was actually quite good.

mattflo said...

The movie is amazing. Even better after reading the book. It's cool to see another believer's perspective of the book. It's also interesting to see an adventurous female's perspective, since stereotypically adventure plagues males. One of my conclusions from reading this and Krakauer's "Into Thin Air" follows your conclusions. The greatest adventure of all is to love people.