Monday, December 17, 2007

into the wild

It has taken me a week to wrap my mind around this post. I tried on numerous occasions to finish it...but each time I failed. I apologize for that. And I'm not even sure I've completed my thoughts on this yet, but regardless here it is...

Betsy and I saw the movie "Into the Wild" last week. It was exceptional. We are still talking about it. I knew the basic plot-line, but had not read the book. It is hard to believe that this could actually be a true story. It's incredible.

There are many "morals-of-the-story" that I walked away with. But, more than anything, I left the movie with a newfound respect for the very real danger of someone placing too high a value on their own ideology.

(I want to note, at this point, that the following thoughts are based on the movie "Into the Wild" and the character "Chris McCandless". I am not so naive or presumptuous as to think I know anything about the actual man or his motives based on the Hollywood adaptation of his life.)

Many people have called what Chris McCandless did "heroic". But I question that.

Yes, he was brilliant, courageous, and true to his convictions...all classic "hero" characteristics. But in many ways, he also seemed to be nothing more than the typical, melodramatic, self-involved "twenty-something": infatuated with his own idealistic world-view and convinced that if something is broken or flawed in any way, than it must mean it is deficient and false in every way, and therefore must be left-behind.

Time and again, he stubbornly, and selfishly, choose to live out his own romanticized version of reality...alone. Leaving in his wake numerous opportunities for true community, friendship, and love. He sacrificed every relationship, every chance for real human interaction. He walked away from it all.

And, ultimately, that left him lost and lonely.

So why am I having such a hard time blogging about this...because a lot of the time, I do the same thing. Maybe not to the extreme, the way Chris McCandless did. But I feel that I, too, am often nothing more than the typical, melodramatic, self-involved "twenty-something" infatuated with his own idealistic world-view.

I claim to be searching for truth, but walk right passed it and into the arms some quixotic belief of how the world should work if everyone else would just come to their senses and think how I think and believe what I believe.

But here is the reality, the tragic reality for McCandless: truth, beauty, life...these are not abstract, conceptual treasures to be sought out in isolation. They aren't ideas found in the pages of our books or the backs of our minds. They are practical and precious jewels that can be unearthed right underneath our feet if we would just be brave enough to dig through the dirt and muck of flawed relationships and broken hearts.

We can't embark on some epic journey...toward truth and beauty, and away from love and human interaction...and expect to find anything other than an illusion.

Fortunately for most twenty-somethings, this journey is only metaphoric. For Chris McCandless, however, it was every way. And I think that may be what makes his story so incredibly interesting.


Blake Anthony said...

I wanna see/read that book-movie. I would say he is more of an inspiration to 20 somethings but not a hero. Maybe a revolutionary. I dunno I maybe talking pre-mature because I haven't seen the movie or read the book. I have read the cliff note version only.

Seeker said...

I haven't read the book but I've seen the movie. I completely agree with your analysis. It is one movie which really got me thinking.

Great blog btw :-)

Dick said...


You've made a beautiful analysis of the book and movie. I think another interesting part of this story is how the author found all the people Chris McCandless met on his journey.


bill said...

yeah dick, his research was incredible. to know how much the people he came in contact with along the way loved him...added so much to the story.

and blake...see, that is kind of might my point. i don't know if it is a good thing that this guy is an inspiration to 20-somethings.

what he saw as "searching for truth", i think was more of a running away from truth.

and i'm not talking about his renunciation of wealth and comfort. that is always admirable. but in reality it wasn't wealth and comfort that he was rejecting. it was his father. and those things just happened to be the things that, to him, represented everything bad about his father.

and because of that he ran away.

so again, to me he wasn't a revolutionary. he was...just...totally emo, before there was emo.

emo greg said...

I wish my lawn was emo so it would cut itself.