Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have mixed feelings about this book. I'm giving it 4.5 stars because I enjoyed reading it and it made me think. I learned a lot. But ugh.
I began reading it because I had heard so much about Chris McCandless being an inspiration to others. Nope- after reading this I don't feel that way towards him at all. His passion and ideas of being one with nature and going "into the wild" I can understand. I'm positive if I hadn't chosen the path I chose in my life, I could have easily chosen one similar to his. If I'd been born 20 years earlier, I would have been hitchhiking to San Francisco with flowers in my hair. So, I agree with his thinking in that money and things are important. I prefer experiences over material gifts. I love nature and the peace I feel when I am in it. I lived in the wilderness for an entire summer when I was 15 at a wilderness survival camp and I have never been able to duplicate how I felt. However, I felt like the way he went about his exploration just ended up hurting others and killing him.
Chris seemed like an arrogant brat who thought he knew more than everyone else. And I don't like to talk bad about people, especially a dead person, but still... He basically held a grudge against his dad for something he did 20 years ago, and was unforgiving and judged his parents cruelly. They seemed like good and involved parents who gave Chris experiences other kids dream about! But I guess having people care and give you life advice was an inconvenience to him. He didn't take ANY advice from people who actually understood what going "into the wild" meant. He didn't take a bigger gun, a compass, an ax, warm boots... He didn't wait until it was warmer. He didn't take a topographical map that could have ultimately saved his life. He would just smile and nod, and then ignore all advice. I think the author hit the nail on the head when he said regarding himself and a near-death adventure, "...like Chris McCandless, I was a raw youth who mistook passion for insight and acted according to an obscure, gap-ridden logic."
I, too, like to kind of "fly by the seat of my pants" and live and learn, and see what will happens without an air tight plan. But sometimes, a little planning is necessary. Going to live in the wild would be one of those times.
Honestly, if you're looking for inspiration, just read pages 56-58. This is a letter Chris wrote to an 80 year old friend he met on the road. IT was inspiring. He said "...I think you really should make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within 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, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future."
AGREE!!! I think you should try to live life to the fullest, have new adventures, don't conform and only live how society expects. I've had that attitude most of my life and I had that attitude as I read this book, because I honestly believe those mantras. But Chris... he had the passion and the drive. I'll give him that. But he left a trail of hurt behind him. The man he wrote the letter to renounced God after learning of his death. His parents were heartbroken and confused. Friends he met along the way were so sad because they tried to help him. I don't think that's what he wanted to do. Even HE realized deep into his "Alaskan Odyssey" that "HAPPINESS IS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED." He was attempting to leave, but couldn't get out because he didn't have a map. :( I'm all for not controlling people, no thought control, government not being in every aspect of our life... but man. A MAP, dude... a map.
**I realize other people got different things from this book and that's cool. Go live your life! (Just take a map...)
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