April 8, 2008, Category: Book Reviews, Movie Reviews

Into the Wild

MPW-26448 I would like to know how many people, like me, identify with Chris McCandless. I suppose most of us have a love/hate relationship with wealth and possessions. Sometimes I feel right on the edge of turning and walking away…like Chris. The closest I’ve come is walking away from good jobs because it just didn’t feel right. With nothing else lined up, I step into the unknown…somehow things have always work out. I think I’ve managed to stay a responsible parent through all my issues. Several years ago I ripped apart a dollar bill in front of my kids and threw it away. It was only a buck but they still talk about it. I’ve got a $50 bill in my wallet right now. I’d love to burn it…but I can’t bring myself to do it.

Chris gave away his $24,000 trust fund to charity, turned down a new car from his parents, burned his money, and wandered around the western United States meeting people and experiencing the land. His final adventure was living in the wilds of Alaska for several months. It’s not spoiling the ending to tell what happened, it was all over the news. When I say it was his final adventure, I mean it literally. He left behind journals, pictures, and friends to help tell his story.

“Rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness…give me truth.”

That quote from the movie sums me up. I don’t think most people really want truth, but maybe I’m wrong. Not that I claim to even have a clue about truth. Think about your most dear relationship or belief. If it is false, would you want to know? Many people I have talked to openly admit that if they could live out their life without having to face their darkness, they would prefer avoid the pain. And I see nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s the happier life and we need most of us to stay happy. In studies, pessimistic individuals are more depressed, big surprise there. But they also recount a more accurate portrayal of reality. Happy people tend to understate the bad and overstate the good. Thank God for happy people, I have no qualm with that. But it’s not for me. I don’t care the price, I want truth. I’ve battled depression all my life and have learned some skills to ease the bite, but I know it’ll follow me to the grave because I’d rather live a sad lonely life with truth than a happy disillusioned one. The bad news is that I’ll never know real truth. The good news is that my life is really quite good. But when it comes down to it, I want truth over happiness. I know how to survive living lonely and sad and I can get through those times. Please don’t ever “protect” me with lies.

I read the book and saw the movie and loved both. I expected I would enjoy them, but I also thought I’d find myself running a critical dialogue and arguing back with Jon Krakauer, the author. But this was not the case. He presented what I felt were objective arguments and won me over. Initially I thought Chris was a complete nut and the whole story was an over-sensationalized account of nothing. But Sandi liked the book so I gave it a chance. It’s the first book of his I’ve read and I’ll read more. I’m jealous of his writing ability. Dang I wish I could write that well. I also want to express my thanks to the family Chris left behind. They worked with Jon and exposed their demons so this story could be told truthfully. It takes character to face it like they did and I am thankful and respect them for this honestly.

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2 thoughts on “Into the Wild

  • By Brett Nordquist - Reply

    I could relate to many of the feelings Chris expressed. Life oftentimes feels like a merry-go-round that never ends: Work-spend-sleep-repeat. I found it interesting how Chris wrote about being “lonely” while living off the land with nobody around. I figured he desired and sought out to be alone. I haven’t read the book but I really enjoyed the movie.

  • By Gretta McDermott - Reply

    I am a 64 year old, single woman, and have felt this way most of my life. With my then-7-year-old daughter, I moved to rural Nova Scotia from the heart of the Bos-Wash corridor. Although not as extreme an experience as Chris McCandliss’, it was fulfilling. I guess the key is that Chris McCandliss believed, believed in himself. And what appeals to a great majority of us in this story is hearing more clearly a voice softly calling from deep inside, saying, “yes.”

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