Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Into the Wild

This book was recommended to me by someone on a message board. About a third of the way through the book, my opinion of the subject, Chris McCandless, was pretty negative. He initially just seemed rebellious against his family and their wealth for no particular reason. He just wants to get away from their apparent control of his life and live his own path. Many young people, especially upon their 18th birthday, feel that they are ready to take on the world. Their youthful naivety leads them to believe they have all the answers, that they know a better way. I know I felt that way.

As I read on, however, I realized that he wasn't the typical young man. He may have been a bit too stubborn for his own good. He was probably too smart for own good as well when it came to his adventure. But I got the impression that this adventure was truly about trying to find himself, to find his true measure as a man, challenging every aspect of his being. Maybe for him, that meant to take on the adversities of the wilderness. Man against nature, is that the ultimate contest?

But in the end, nature proved to be a fatal adversary. Chris would not make it out of the wild alive. Many have called him foolish or crazy, going into the Alaskan in-country ill-prepared. Others have glorified his adventure, seeing it as the ultimate freedom.

I don't think that Chris was necessarily foolish or crazy. Just a bit stubborn. He knew he was risking his life. He knew that there was a chance that he wouldn't make it out of the wild alive. He willingly accepted that chance. I get the impression that if he didn't take this chance, rise to this challenge, then he would have went on with his life not really living or feeling his life. I know that there are many people in this world that can relate to this. Maybe their challenge isn't whether or not to go into the wild and live off the land. However, there's that one thing that you always wanted to do, that passion that drives you. But for whatever reason, real or imagined, you give up on that passion and live a rather pedestrian life because "it makes since" or "it's what everyone else is doing". Chris refused to live that life.