I have started off the new year with a new obsession. I watched the movie Into the Wild which is an adaption of the book by the same name. It follows the true story of college graduate Chris McCandless, aka Alexander Supertramp, who was found dead from starvation in a remote part of Alaska, the Stampede Trail. This sounds like a super sad story, and his death is sad, but the message is pretty powerful (at least for me).
Chris was a person who believed that society had gone downhill with the hustle and bustle of city life, people's ever growing unkindness to others, and that there was too much connected-ness.He wanted to go back to the way people used to live, back to living with nature and enjoying life without distraction, just you and the wilderness. He was very intelligent and was influenced heavily by Jack London's Call of the Wild and Henry David Thoreau's Walden, both of which dealing with living in the wild.
|The Actual Chris McCandless|
On his journey he made friends with many people, visited a few western states, went to Mexico, and finally up to Alaska, which in his mind the end all and be all of places, it was his idea of the greatest adventure. He lasted 113 days in Alaska, living in an abandoned bus, hunting and gathering different kinds of plants. His adventure turned for the worst when there were not enough animals to hunt and he began to go hungry. His fatal mistake was accidentally eating a plant which looked identical to another one that was safe to eat, but it was poisonous. This plant's poison made it impossible for his body to digest food properly, so no matter what else he ate it did nothing for him. He was found a few weeks later by some hunters passing by, inside the bus in his sleeping bag.
McCandless' story intrigued me because we all should remember to slow down a bit. We all as a society aren't as kind or connected to each other. People don't say hello as often or look up from their phone or laptop too much in public, which is a bit cold. I don't mean to say I want to go live in the wild and forage for berries, but maybe disconnect a little more, even if it's only a few hours a day, and really focus on the people around you.
I did some research on McCandless and found other stories that were similar to his: Everett Ruess, Carl McCunn, and Robert F. Scott. I also watched a documentary on Youtube called Alone in the Wild about this producer named Ed Wardle who challenged himself to live alone in the Canadian wilderness for three months and he filmed it all himself. I also started reading Call of the Wild and I've read Walden before.
Have you seen the movie or read the book? What do you think about Chris McCandless' story?