Into The Wild - Oliver          

Into The Wild Essay

The Example of Chris McCandless

Christopher McCandless was tired with society. He left his bourgeois background, his family, his home, the prospects growing from a great education, and condemned the spirit of the modern day and the obsession with materialism that has infected our societies. He no longer felt at home in his home. So he vanished, informing very few people, and left for the harsh wilderness of Arizona. There, he would live alone for months, away from the normality that he proclaimed was hostile to the adventurous spirit. After a while, McCandless made the mistake of eating seeds – unaware even by scientists at the time – that provoked starvation. Rather than return to civilization and live on, Chris chose death, inside an abandoned bus, physically broken and starved, but surrounded by the nature that he so selflessly loved. Some have criticized him as foolish and idiotic, who got everything that he asked for. I wonder, however, whether Chris lived a more fulfilling life than the very people who so immediately dismiss him.

We live in a world where everybody complains. Fast cars and television sets are treasured while video games and the Internet have turned so much of the youth into couch potato’s. And as one author put it, societies value the dead more than the living. Careerism is as normal as the so-called human traits of compassion and empathy. Holidays are spent inside resorts and on cruise liners rather than with the people, our fellow man, highlighting how the once social-creature has become an individualist and conservative coward. Now humans have so much to learn from the apes we are said to have evolved from. We are becoming more and more unrecognizable as human beings.

Christopher knew that death was one day coming. He thought it better to live as if he already ceased to exist, taking both the risks and the joys that come with adventure, instead of conform and live a life around Coca Cola and spiritual regression. Whereas most tumble on, in love with themselves amidst competition and long drawn out suffering, Chris lived in the moment, day to day, doing what satisfied him most – in full knowledge of the dangers that came with it. He hunted for food, built shelters, and experienced the state of nature firsthand and without Apache helicopters on speed-dial. Chris did not suffer aimlessly. He died doing what all too many do not have the courage to do. Yet they label him a moron.

Chris had little faith in humanity. Otherwise, he would never have left civilization in the first place. Yet every time somebody ridicules him as a stupid man that wasted his life, they signify – without intent – that Chris had good cause to do what he did. See, Chris never asked for sympathy or judgment – he died not knowing he would become famous, subject to the court of history. On the contrary, by entering the wilderness Chris willfully traded your feelings about him for a solitary and harmless life. Articles in the Daily Mail encouraging mockery of others were not an interest of his. He simply wanted to pursue his own passions and interests, and never sought to put you up for judgment or to be used as a scapegoat for the gratification of the sadistic. Chris chose his own path, albeit partly shaped by the fact that he loathed what we – as humans – had created. Alas, he did so in pursuit of happiness, a cause surely every man and woman deserves the right too so long as no harm is done in that name. So why, when Chris died in such a pursuit do so many insist upon damning him?

Though Christopher McCandless died young, he had much more reason to live than most. This is the greatest tragedy of his death. I know of countless people who have died alone, but who have never lived the life they wanted due to fear and a sense of insecurity. One in four of us shall die of cancer, slowly suffering around men who will forget us, and who, at the same time, must move on in order to live with themselves. It is probable that upon death, each of us shall cease to exist, inside a place that can only be described as ‘nothingness’. I have met very few Chris McCandless’s in life and for that humanity seems less impressive. In fact, usually, I am met with people who are ruthlessly afraid of unconformity, who are fickle and as predictable as death, ready to criticize others and rarely themselves. Chris showed us that precisely because life is short, we should never be intimidated by the inevitable. We should learn from his example and not reject him only because he valued a different path.

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