Into The Wild - Trey Spadone

Into The Wild Essay

Thoughts on Chris McCandless
August 28, 2015

Whenever a new idea or new thing emerges society either loves it or hates it. Plain and simple. Oftentimes, society initially rejects the new thing. It’s human nature to fear the unknown; we perceive new things as dangerous to the balance we know, and they’re often difficult to understand. Every now and then, there are individuals that completely upset the status quo. Their beliefs, thoughts, and feelings don’t fit the norm of their time. One of those individuals was Christopher McCandless. Chris was a nonconformist in every light. He was determined to live his life exactly how he wanted. He didn’t mind being in unknown territory, in fact it brought him joy. Consistency seemed to not be in his vocabulary. The times he spent on the road were the high points of his life. In those moments he finally felt unchained and free.

Some people have labeled Chris as reckless, stupid, and incompetent. They believe a twenty-four year old, from suburban Virginia, had little business entering Alaskan terrain. Jon Krakauer explained that some people “fulminated that he was a reckless idiot, a wacko, a narcissist who perished out of arrogance and stupidity- and was undeserving of the considerable media attention he received.”

For starters, Chris was in no way incompetent. His childhood and early teenage years prove that. He was an intelligent kid who graduated from Emory University with a 3.72 GPA. He thought about real-life issues: apartheid, homelessness, world hunger. He looked up to individuals like Thoreau and Tolstoy and aspired to be his own person. Beyond that, he was extremely ethical. Wayne Westerberg, who was shocked by Chris’ work ethic said, “he never quit in the middle of something. If he started a job, he’d finish it.”

The thing about Chris is that he wasn’t looking for trouble when he walked in the wilderness. To him, it was simply the next step on his journey towards happiness. His sister Carine said, “nothing was more important to Chris than truth.” In order to be truthful to himself, which he had always been, he had to make that trek to Alaska. In his letter to Ron Franz, Chris expressed his sadness that, “so many people live with unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism.” Chris wasn’t one of those people. He was determined to live the most fulfilled life possible. His passion for adventure outweighed everything else.

That passion for adventure lives deep down in all of us. While visiting the bus in Alaska, David Korn read the journal entries of those who made the trek before him. I completely agree with Korn’s conclusion that Chris’s story sparks something inside of people, “something essential but forgotten that exists within.” That’s why Chris has admirers. That’s why there are people like David who risked his life to see what Chris saw.

Chris’ walk into the wild embodies all of what we wish we could do. He wanted to do something and he did it. Despite the risk and despite the danger he tried anyway. Yes, he didn’t survive, but the fact that he died is far less important than the fact that he went at all. Since he died, people think that his journey was automatically a failure. That is far from truth. In some ways, his story is more meaningful because he died. Like Jessica Robbins acknowledges, “no one would have known his story if he survived.” Since Chris was a lover of the truth, I owe it to him to repeat Robbins and say, the truth is Chris “traveled to and died in Alaska.” However, for me and many others, his legacy isn’t one of a man who went into the Alaskan wilderness and died. It’s a legacy of a man who dared to follow his dreams no matter the consequences.

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